Lemon Chicken

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On a gastronomic trip to Morocco, I ate a version of this dish every evening for four days as successive smart restaurants offered it up on their set menus. It was good enough to withstand this – just. Preserved lemons can be bought in supermarkets now but are easy enough to make if you think about it in advance. Bores who worry about things being authentic will tell you that whole lemons must be used and that months must pass by before use. Just humour them. Life’s too short.

Ingredients

  • 1.5kg (3lb 6oz) chicken
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 heaped teaspoon saffron threads
  • 100 ml ( fl oz/½ cup) chicken stock or water
  • 50g (2 oz/½ cup) cooked chickpeas (garbanzos)
  • 50g (2 oz/½ cup) pitted green olives
  • the rind from 1 preserved lemon (see below)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander (cilantro)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • olive oil, for frying

For the Preserved Lemons

  • 12 lemons
  • 150g (5 oz/½ cup) salt

Method

To make the preserved lemons, cut half the lemons into six wedges each and toss in the salt. Place in a jar. Juice the remaining lemons, pour into the jar, making sure the wedges are covered, and leave for a week before use.

Joint the chicken into breasts, thighs and drumsticks. Fry the onion in a little oil until it starts to colour. Add the chicken pieces and cook until coloured on each side.

Lift the pan away from direct heat and add the spices. Cook for 1 minute. Add the stock or water, return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil. Add the chickpeas and olives, reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes.

Finely chop the preserved lemon rind, discarding the flesh. Stir it into the chicken along with the fresh herbs, then serve.

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