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Braised Chicken with Quick Preserved Lemons

Our tagine spice combines four traditional Moroccan seasonings: paprika, ginger, black pepper and turmeric. They bring a complex balance of sweet, spicy, savory and herbal flavors to this braised dish, which also includes cinnamon, cayenne and other fragrant spices.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Meyer or Eureka lemons
  • 2 Tbs. plus 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 chicken, about 4 lb.
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp. tagine spice
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

Cut the lemons into rounds about 1/8 inch thick, discarding any seeds. Sprinkle 1 Tbs. of the salt on a plate and arrange the lemon slices on the salt. Sprinkle the slices with another 1 Tbs. of the salt. Let stand while preparing the chicken.

Put the coriander and cumin seeds in a small fry pan over medium-high heat. Toast the spices, shaking the pan, until the cumin seeds turn a darker green, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, pour onto a plate and let cool.

Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, finely grind the coriander and cumin. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in the cinnamon and cayenne. Set aside.

Cut the chicken into 9 pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 half-breasts and 1 back). Season with the 1 1/2 tsp. salt and the black pepper.

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until very hot but not smoking. Working in batches, add the chicken, skin side down, and cook, turning once or twice, until deeply browned on both sides, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a platter. Discard the back.

Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tagine spice and stir for 15 seconds, then stir in the coriander mixture. Add the tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Return the drumsticks, thighs, wings and then the breasts to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, rinse and drain the lemon slices and finely dice them. Stir the diced lemons and chickpeas into the pot and continue to cook until the chicken shows no sign of pink when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife near the bone, 5 to 10 minutes more.

Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Skim off any fat that rises to the top. Transfer the chicken to a warmed deep platter and sprinkle with the cilantro. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma New Flavors for Chicken, by Rick Rodgers (Oxmoor House, 2008).