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Tajine Tales: Chicken with Smen and Green Olives

In Moroccan Food by Amanda MouttakiLeave a Comment


It didn’t break!!  I’ve blogged a few times about my bad luck with cracking tajines.  The most recent tajine that I’ve gotten I didn’t take any chances with – doing lots of prepping before actually using it.  I very timidly decided to try it out, cooking a chicken tajine on very low temperatures and only slowly increasing the heat.  I felt like a new mom.  You know the mom I’m talking about – the one who spends the first 2 weeks with a newborn at home sneaking up to the crib and checking to make sure the baby is still breathing.  Gingerly placing their hand close to the babies mouth, making sure there were little air puffs…oh no you didn’t do that?  Never mind then…..Let’s just say I checked on it a lot.


It paid off because it didn’t break and the dish turned out great.  I was attempting to make Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Eggs from Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking: Traditional and Modern Recipes to Savor and Share by Paula Wolfert (on page 94).  It was a tough recipe and in the end my broken leg won because I just couldn’t stand long enough to pull this off.  Half way through I gave up and just made a few changes.  I’ll give Paula’s recipe a shot when I’m healed.


The original recipe is tricky – I used almost all the same ingredients but left out the eggs and lemon juice.  It still turned out to be a great dish.  Today’s Food of the Sun entry is for poultry main dishes – so here we go!


Ingredients
4 chicken breasts
1 onion grated and excess water removed
2 tbsp crushed garlic
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of saffron threads
1 tsp ginger
salt and pepper
1/2 preserved lemon cleaned
2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
handful of green olives
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp smen (you can make this without smen just add 1 more tbsp regular butter)


Directions


Clean the chicken and remove any excess fat.  In 1/2c warm water soak the saffron threads.  With a mortar and pestle pound the garlic with 1 tsp salt.  Add in the ginger, 1/2 tsp black pepper, cinnamon and 2 tbsp softened butter and smen.  Gradually stir in the hot saffron water.  *Note do this very slowly and with a little water at a time – too much water and it will not come together*  Mix with half of the grated onion and pour into the tajine.   Add in the chicken pieces skin side up on top.  Place the lemon, olives, parsley and cilantro on top of the tajine.


Cover the tajine and cook on low heat 275F in the oven.  Cook until the chicken is tender.  This will take at least an hour.  Avoid opening the tajine as much as possible, as opening it breaks the seal and the steam.  The meat should be tender.  Remove form oven at this point and transfer pieces to a plate.


In a medium bowl mix lemon, olives, cilantro and parsley.  Using a spoon remove any fat that has gathered at the top.  In a saute pan cook the chicken on medium high heat to achieve a crispy skin.


The resulting flavor is very unique, it’s unlike any tajine I’ve tasted.  Smen has a very distinct taste and is something you either love or hate.  I’ve never “loved” it but in this dish it works.  I’m really looking forward to trying this again and making changes in hopes it turns out like Paula’s!

I wanted to update everyone – I have not yet picked a winner for the tea set giveaway.  I’m going to give everyone one more week to register.  Deadline is February 11th!  I hope that you will link up your poultry main dishes to this post (you’ll get an entry in the giveaway!) There are other ways to win too.  Check out the ways to enter and make sure you leave a separate comment on this post for each entry.


Also I want to encourage you all to stop by and visit American Muslim Mom.  They are relaunching their site with a new design.  I was fortunate enough to get an early copy of Ponn Sabra’s ebook and was very happy to read and review.  It’s fantastic.  Stop by and check out the site, and make sure that you enter to win some of the items in the super big giveaway!  There are over $500 in prizes including my tajine spice trio!

Amanda MouttakiTajine Tales: Chicken with Smen and Green Olives

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