Heaven on Earth

Heaven on Earth

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Moroccan Chicken

I am a fan of Mediteranean cuisine.  And while there is a wonderful restaurant down the street from us, the prices are steep and getting a table is just about impossible on a weekend.

I love America's Test Kitchen, mostly for the great explanations of how food science works.  This is one the their current recipes and it is a winner.  Not only is it much more economical than eating out, but most of the ingredients are already in my pantry, including the spices.  They've adapted a tagine recipe to make it user friendly.   Except for adding an extra carrot, I followed the recipe exactly.

This was a big hit at dinner and it was even better after a day in the refrigerator.
Next month it's our turn to host the extended family dinner for about 35 people.  This will be the main course.

Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemon (Chicken Tagine)

America's Test Kitchen
From the episode: A Moroccan Feast

Serves 4

Bone-in chicken parts can be substituted for the whole chicken. For best results, use four chicken thighs and two chicken breasts, each breast split in half; the dark meat contributes valuable flavor to the broth and should not be omitted. Use a vegetable peeler to remove wide strips of zest from the lemon before juicing it. Make sure to trim any white pith from the zest, as it can impart bitter flavor. If the olives are particularly salty, give them a rinse. Serve with couscous (see related recipe).


• 1 1/4teaspoons sweet paprika
• 1/2teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/4teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/2teaspoon ground ginger
• 1/4teaspoon ground coriander
• 1/4teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 3strips lemon zest (each about 2 inches by 3/4 inch)
• 3tablespoons fresh lemon juice , from 1 to 2 lemons
• 5medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 teaspoons)
• 1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks; wings reserved for another use) and trimmed of excess fat
• Salt and ground black pepper
• 1tablespoon olive oil
• 1 large onion , halved and cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 3 cups)
• 1 3/4cups low-sodium chicken broth
• 1tablespoon honey
• 2 medium carrots , peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick coins, very large pieces cut into half-moons (about 2 cups)
• 1cup Greek cracked green olives , pitted and halved
• 2tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


• 1. Combine spices in small bowl and set aside. Mince 1 strip lemon zest; combine with 1 teaspoon minced garlic and mince together until reduced to fine paste; set aside.

• 2. Season both sides of chicken pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large heavy--bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until beginning to smoke. Brown chicken pieces skin side down in single layer until deep golden, about 5 minutes; using tongs, turn chicken pieces and brown on second side, about 4 minutes more. Transfer chicken to large plate; when cool enough to handle, peel off skin and discard. Pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot.

• 3. Add onion and 2 remaining lemon zest strips to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions have browned at edges but still retain shape, 5 to 7 minutes (add 1 tablespoon water if pan gets too dark). Add remaining 4 teaspoons garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add spices and cook, stirring constantly, until darkened and very fragrant, 45 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in broth and honey, scraping bottom of pot with wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Add thighs and drumsticks, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 5 minutes.

• 4. Add carrots and breast pieces (with any accumulated juices) to pot, arranging breast pieces in single layer on top of carrots. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees, 10 to 15 minutes.

• 5. Transfer chicken to plate or bowl and tent with foil. Add olives to pot; increase heat to medium-high and simmer until liquid has thickened slightly and carrots are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Return chicken to pot and add garlic-zest mixture, cilantro, and lemon juice; stir to combine and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

• TO MAKE AHEAD: The recipe can be prepared through step 4, cooled, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. To serve, gently warm until the chicken is heated through, then proceed with the recipe from step 5.



When braising chicken parts, it can be hard to keep the white meat from turning dry and stringy. We solved this problem by layering the dark meat, the carrots, then the white meat. The propped-up white meat sits above the braising liquid and cooks at a gentler pace.


  1. Oooh Yum -- now I'm hungry! Thanks for sharing the recipe Bonnie -- aaannnnddd, taking a mouth watering picture! ;-D

  2. Looks like a great meal. I love ATK recipes too.

  3. Oh my does that look good!!!!
    I'm checking out ATK thanks.

  4. Looks and sounds wonderful, Bonnie!
    Wow! That's a lot of family! I bet they LOVE coming to your house!

  5. That's quite a list of ingredients. Sounds like a labor of love for 35! I'm sure it will be a huge success!

  6. I yummy! I'd love to just dig into your plate! I bought America's Test Kitchen Cookbook for my daughter this past Christmas. I wonder if it's in there?


  7. What a combination of flavors in this recipe -- I love it! Then the addition of cilantro at the end to freshen it up. It sounds like a winner. I can just see it in my inside dutch oven ready to serve. Joni