I recently made chicken soup with a homemade stock, and used some of the leftovers to prepare this dish…Moroccan Chicken, Lemon, & Olive Stew w/ Saffron Couscous. I found the basic recipe in a ‘Fine Living’ magazine that I’ve had lying around the house for a couple of years.
This stew is reminiscent of a Moroccan tagine chicken dish because of the warm, earthy spices infuse this savory concoction. And though you might think that this is a heavy and very spicy dish, the olives and lemon add a light zestiness that is perfect for casual entertaining. After a day or two…it tastes even better!
CHEF’S NOTE: This recipe feeds 10-12 people, but I cut it down significantly and changed some of the ingredients to make it my own. Don’t be afraid to experiment and use ingredients that YOU prefer without completely changing the recipe.
Season chicken with 2 tsp. salt and 2 tsp. pepper. Heat the oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches so as not to crowd the pan, brown the chicken all over, about 3 minutes per side, transferring each batch to a plate or bowl. It’ll take about 4 batches and 24 minutes total to brown all the chicken. The bottom of the pan will be brown, that’s OK.
Reduce to medium heat, add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are softened and golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, chiles, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves, cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Add the chicken broth, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of the lemon juice. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes.
Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot. Stir in the chickpeas and olives. Increase the heat to medium high and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes more. Stir in 1 Tbsp. of the remaining lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over the Saffron Couscous.
Put the couscous in a large bowl, set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the chicken broth, butter, saffron, and 1 tsp. salt over medium-high heat until the butter is melted and the broth is hot. Pour the mixture over the couscous. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap until the liquid has been absorbed by the couscous (about 10-12 min). Gently mix the couscous and break apart any clumps.
Now I did not use chickpeas because I didn’t want a starchy broth. Nor did I use chiles. I wasn’t in the mood for spicy food. I did add caraway seeds, fennel, and smoked paprika to give the stew a more distinct Moroccan flavor. I cook quite often, and I have gotten very good at “NOT” following recipes. I used my instincts to change the ingredient amounts. Something that I highly encourage you to do is play around with small dishes and experiment with different spices and flavors. You will surprised at how how quickly you are able to cook without measuring everything…trust me!