Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spice Rack Challenge February: Citrus

So my first thought upon hearing what the Spice Rack Challenge ingredient for February was what the heck? Citrus? I mean I love my citrus - I routinely break the hundred mile diet rule to buy lemons and limes, and I have dried lemon zest and lemon pepper in my spice rack, but I don't think of them as spices per say. As I read through the possibilities however I realized this was a great opportunity to use some of the preserved lemons that I made just over a year ago. I usually just make chanh muoi (Vietnamese salty lemonade) with them but I have been wanting to try them in a Moroccan style chicken dish, traditionally made in a tagine. Since I don't own a tagine I found one version that can be made in a slow cooker and adapted it to my taste.

Two cloves of garlic, minced
olive oil for frying chicken plus 1 tbsp for marinade
one whole chicken cut into serving sized pieces; or similar amount of chicken breasts, legs or thighs
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of saffron threads

Optional- (I used them all but you can choose to taste)
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
one stick of cinnamon or a few pinches of ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander

1 onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or stock (or water)
1/2 cup olives pitted ( green are traditional but any will do)
1 preserved lemon cut in small pieces

Mix the garlic, some black pepper, and a spoonful of oil. Rub the chicken with the mixture and set aside for a few hours. Heat the oil in a large heavy frying pan. Fry the chicken until all sides are browned. Move chicken to slow cooker. Lower heat in frying pan and add spices and onions. Stir-fry over med heat for a few minutes until onions are soft. Add chicken broth, stock, or water. Cook on high for a few minutes and pour over chicken in slow cooker. Set cooker to high for 30 minutes then reduce heat. Simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours. Add olives and preserved lemons and cook for an additional 30 minutes (or longer to reduce sauce.)
Serve chicken, covered with sauce, over rice or couscous.

I've never eaten Moroccan food so I don't know how this recipe compares to the authentic dish but I have to admit I was underwhelmed. To begin with the marinade contained a ton of garlic which promptly burnt while searing the chicken pieces. I had to wipe out pan to get rid of the burnt garlic so I lost all the lovely chicken jus. In the slow cooker the chicken became melt in your mouth tender but the combination of flavours wasn't what I'd hoped for. The Russian thought it was waste of good chicken but since he's not a fan of olives or lemons I wasn't surprised. I on the other hand love both of those things and was a bit disappointed. I'm not likely to make this again.

But since I've got the lemons out:

Chanh muoi

1/2 preserved lemon, rinsed
Sugar to taste
Water ( still or sparkling- I use club soda because I like mine fizzy)

Place lemon in the bottom of a large glass. Add sugar and smush together with a spoon. Add ice and water, stir. If using club soda, add slowly and allow fizz to settle before adding more.
Photo courtesy of

Now that's delicious!


  1. Made this Moroccan chicken for dinner, it is delish!! Thanks for the recipe.

  2. I have yet to try preserved lemons. I made some when I was living in Mexico and then our company sent us back home 6 months early and I had to pitch them before I ever got a chance to try them. I have to say this is the first I have ever seen them used in a drink