Preserved Lemons, Chicken, and Couscous

Tajine

For a while I have been obsessing about preserved lemons and the sensory experience they can bring to dishes. Similar to their cousin, lemon confit but sans the sugar, preserved lemons sit in their own juice, salted with herbs and spices (depending on taste) for about a month before they are ready to be used. Pondering on whether I should make my own or purchase some pre-preserved, I opted for the latter when I found a jar at Zabar’s.

A good Moroccan chicken tajine radiates when preserved lemons are exhibited in its flavor capsule. While food prigs may dismiss a simplified recipe that doesn’t quite stew for as long, nor does it incorporate the use of a tajine (the clay base with a cone shaped top), the result is nonetheless a bold Moroccan inspired dish zipped with flavor.

What you’ll need is couscous, dried fruit (whichever you have on hand, dried apricots or figs are nice, but raisins are great too), a preserved lemon or two, harissa, some vegetables and your choice of protein (I used chicken).

Here’s the recipe:

1 box of Couscous
1 lbs of chicken breast strips
1 onion coarsley chopped into big slivers
1/4 lbs of chopped Kalamata olives
4 tbsp of olive oil
1 tbsp of Harissa
1 tbsp of ground cardamom
3 tbsp of garlic powder
1 cup dried figs
1 tsp of kosher salt
2 cut up preserved lemons
1 pound of asparagus

1. Set your oven to broil and let it heat up for a few minutes
2. Heat 3 tbsp of olive oil in a pot or sauce pan and add the onions. Let the onions cook through till they begin a translucency and add the salt, garlic powder and smoked paprika, and chicken
3. As the chicken starts to almost cook through add the Harissa, ground cardamom, chopped olives, dried figs and lemons
4. Separately broil the asparagus with 1 tbsp of olive oil for 10 minutes
5. In the mean time turn the heat low to the chicken and onion stew
6. Once the asparagus is broiled, cut it up to smaller pieces and add to the stew
7. In a separate, bigger pot prep the couscous
8. As a last step, once the couscous is fluffed up add the stew to the couscous and ensure both are integrated together through the pot

© 2011 Faris Habayeb
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