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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chicken with Lemons and Olives

After my recent, spasmodic lemon craze, I wondered what I should do with my preserved lemons. Gourmet provided a ready answer with this chicken tagine dish (a somewhat shallow Le Creuset covered skillet and I proceeded to make short work of my sour, salty friends). This was not difficult work by any means although I suspect guests might think otherwise. Such a rhapsody to serve; a marvelous balance of tart, sweet, savory, salty and buttery deliciousness, even though no actual butter was involved. Incorporating garlic and ginger paste, cilantro and cinnamon, the aromas filled the kitchen--can't you practically inhale it all, leaping off of the page? Saffron threads were first up in a small skillet, to be toasted until fragrant. Frankly, I've never really understood what saffron does (this particular batch delivered by a Belgian friend), but I use it anyway, as suggested in any recipe. It's pretty but I've never really smelled it or tasted it; I just rely on the idea that it is doing its elusive job. I used subtly sumptuous, plump Castelvetrano olives that imparted an unexpected buttery flavor--pit them yourself or apprise your guests that the pits remain as they recklessly bite in. Whatever you do, be keen when choosing your olives--overly salty won't do, add your own salt in, if you wish. The pulp of the preserved lemons slides right off the rind with a proper knife and the chopped rinds themselves melt quite away, leaving a bright tingle to the tagine, once warmed. Now, you could purchase preserved lemons at a specialty market but there is really little to do--just quarter, salt and soak the lemons in their own juices a week ahead of time before topping off with olive oil, and proudly announce that you prepared them all by yourself.

Dispatching the lemons as the olives observe...!

The vibrant mix with a flutter of cilantro, about to be simmered for roughly 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, before the olives are tossed in for another 10 or so...!

Do enjoy!

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