Recipes Main Courses Poultry and Game Chicken Tagine with Olives and Lemon

Chicken Tagine with Olives and Lemon

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8

This rustic dish, flavored with preserved lemons and green olives, is an adaptation of a classic Moroccan tagine, or stew. The chicken needs to marinate for several hours, so start this dish in the morning and prepare it in the evening, or marinate it overnight and cook it tomorrow.


  • 1/4 tsp. saffron threads
  • 2 large yellow onions, about 1 lb. (500 g) total weight, diced
  • 1/2 cup (3/4 oz./20 g) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup (3/4 oz./20 g) coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 Tbs. (2 fl. oz./60 ml) fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 skinless, bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1 skinless, bone-in whole chicken breast, about 1 1/4 lb. (625 g), cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 preserved lemons
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups (8 oz./250 g) green olives, cracked with the flat side of a chef’s knife


In a small bowl, combine the saffron with 2 Tbs. warm water and set aside to soak for 10 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the onions, cilantro, parsley, 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice, the cumin, ginger, turmeric, saffron and its soaking liquid, and 1 tsp. salt and process to a coarse puree. Transfer to a large sealable plastic bag and add the garlic and olive oil. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, seal the bag, and massage to coat the chicken with the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

Halve the preserved lemons and scoop out the pulp onto a cutting board. Cut the rind of both lemons into strips 1/4 inch (6 mm) wide and set aside. Chop half of the pulp and set aside. Discard the remaining pulp.

Transfer the chicken with the marinade to a large Dutch oven. Pour in the broth, add the lemon pulp and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a saucepan filled with water to a boil, add the olives, adjust the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

When the chicken is tender, add the olives, the lemon-rind strips and the remaining 2 Tbs. lemon juice to the pot. Re-cover and simmer until the chicken is very tender and falling off the bone, 10 to 15 minutes longer.

Serve directly from the pot or transfer the contents to a wide, shallow serving bowl. Serves 6 to 8.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Two in the Kitchen, by Christie Dufault and Jordan Mackay (Weldon Owen, 2012)