Recipe for "Chicken with Lemons and Olives Emshmel" from "Couscous And Other Good Food from Morocco" by Paula Wolfert. The couscous recipe is also from the same book. This recipe only came out okay. I made this because I fondly remember a chicken with homemade preserved lemons dish, Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Olives (Djej M'Chermel), that I used to make before this blog existed. I liked that recipe better.
I think the sauce is too oily; tomorrow after it has been in the fridge I will skim of the congealed fat. The recipe didn't say whether the skin should be left on or not, so I left the skin on. However, next time I would remove the skin since it gets mushy in slowly braised dishes like this, and leaving it out would probably help to decrease the fat that renders into the sauce. I used the preserved lemons that I made a while ago.
I think that the preserved lemons should be cut into thin strips; they are too salty to only cut into 1/4th lemons. When I served the leftovers, I cut the lemons into thin strips, and this was much better since it allowed the salt in the lemons to dilute into the sauce, and you could taste bits of them as you ate the sauce.
Another change that I would make is that I used finely minced onions even though the recipe specified that grated onions should be used. I don't like how my grated onions are visible in the sauce; I think that the finely grated onions would disintegrate into the sauce better and make a smoother texture.
In addition, I used only flat leafed parsley, instead of a mixture of parsley and cilantro.
I found my old handwritten notes on an old print out from the New York Times article for the Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Olives (Djej M'Chermel) dish that I used to make. The notes have been hidden away on my bookshelf since sometime in 2005, despite multiple moves since then. According to my notes, back in 2005, I used to make a few changes to the recipe:
- I used 3 or 4 chicken breasts, which were boneless and skinless, and cubed.
- I didn't use liver or giblets.
- I didn't use any butter.
- I didn't use any cilantro.
- The preserved lemons and olives were salty enough, so I didn't need to add any additional salt.
- I used low salt chicken stock (preferably homemade) instead of water.
- I precooked the onion to soften it first, before adding it.
- Since I used to used cubed chicken breasts, I skipped the step which cooks the chicken for 30-40 minutes until tender, and I just started with the step which adds the olives and lemons and cooks the dish for about 15 minutes.