Moroccan chicken with preserved lemons and olives

Yield: 4 servings

Measure Ingredient
5 To 6 pounds chicken,
Preferably small chickens
Weighing no more than 2 or
Pounds, including livers and
Giblets
1 Lemon, cut into quarters
Handful of fine sea salt
½ cup Minced cilantro
½ cup Minced flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons Minced garlic
1 tablespoon Ground ginger
Freshly ground black pepper
To taste
¼ teaspoon Saffron threads
2 Whole preserved lemons
¼ cup Water
½ cup Extra-virgin olive oil
4 mediums Onions, halved and very
Thinly sliced
1 tablespoon Sweet paprika
1 tablespoon Unsalted butter (optional)
1 cup Best-quality black or violet
Olives

Remove all traces of fat and any fibers from the chickens. Rinse thoroughly, inside and out, in cool running water. Rub them all over, inside and out, with lemon quarters, being sure to rub between the skin and flesh of the breasts. Rub salt all over the chickens. Set aside in a cool place to drain for at least 30 minutes or refrigerate the chickens covered, overnight. Trim any greenish spots off the livers and pull away and discard giblet linings. When you=re ready to cook, rinse the chickens again in cool running water and pat them dry with paper towels. Set aside.

In a heavy pot or kettle large enough to hold all the chickens, mix the cilantro, parsley, garlic, ginger and pepper. Crumble the saffron into the herbs. Cut one of the preserved lemons into small pieces and add to the mixture along with the water.

Mix the seasoning all together well, then put the chickens into the pot and use your hands to rub them all over, inside and out, with the seasoning sauce. Add the giblets to the middle of the pot, pour the olive oil over, and set the kettle on very low heat. As the chicken begins to sizzle in the sauce, add the onions and shake the pan to distribute evenly around the birds. Cover the pan and cook very slowly until the chickens are thoroughly cooked and the onions have almost disintegrated into the sauce. After 30 minutes of cooking, add the livers to the pot, together with the paprika, shaking the kettle to distribute the paprika in the sauce. Total cooking time will be 1½ to 2 hours.

When the chickens are thoroughly cooked, remove them from the sauce.

Cut whole chickens into halves or quarters and arrange them on a warm platter. Take the gizzards and hearts out of the sauce, cut them into small bits, and stir them back in. Using a fork, coarsely crush the livers in sauce. Sauce should be quite thick; if it seems too thin, let it boil down, stirring frequently, until it is the right consistency. Add the butter if desired and the olives. Swirl the pan to distribute the olives and emulsify the sauce. Pour the sauce over the chickens on the platter and garnish with strips of peel from the second preserved lemon. (If you are not using preserved lemons, garnish the chickens with grated lemon zest).

Yield: 4 servings

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