Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Green Olives

You know how there are some dishes that just fall between the culinary cracks – they’re so easy to make you feel you’d be cheating your guests, but seem too special-tasting for an everyday supper? So you tend to forget all about them until suddenly, they pop up in your head and you think, ‘why on earth haven’t I done that recently?’

This fabulous Moroccan recipe, care of Claudia Roden, is one such dish. It tastes heavenly, with fall-off-the-bone chicken, gentle spices and the zing of lemons and green olives, but is so effortless it feels sinful. You just put all your ingredients into a big pot and forget about them for almost an hour. You might like to go mad with your accompaniment – some saffron rice, perhaps, or couscous with vegetables, but you won’t need to do too much – all the flavour you need is right there, in the chicken.

Tastes even better than it looks
Tastes even better than it looks
Preserved lemons, easier than you think
Preserved lemons, easier than you think

To serve two, you will need:

Two chicken pieces, divided into thighs and drumsticks

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 onion, grated or chopped

1 crushed garlic clove

a pinch of saffron

¼ tsp ground ginger

¾ tsp cinnamon

salt and pepper

a bunch of coriander/cilantro, finely chopped*

a bunch of parsley, finely chopped**

the peel of a preserved lemon, chopped

a handful of green olives

* Often I don’t have coriander/cilantro, so go without, and it still tastes good

** In the winter I use dried parsley, and seem to get away with it

Here's what you do:

Put all the ingredients except the preserved lemon and green olives into a large saucepan. Add about half a pint of water, stir and simmer, covered, for about 45 minutes.

Check it every now and then again, adding water if necessary.

Add your lemon and olives and cook for a further 20 minutes.

I told you it was easy, didn’t I?

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