Cooking chicken on the bone yeilds a juicier result with more flavor and chicken thighs are particularly good, especially when braised in an aromatic broth. In this case, removing the skin cuts back on the fat without compromising the flavor.
I like to serve this dish with couscous; quinoa or rice will also do but couscous is ready in 5 minutes and the addition of dried fruit and toasted nuts creates a luxurious and versatile result that can be served with roast chicken, duck, turkey, lamb, etc.
Of course, you’ll also need a batch of Moroccan preserved lemons, unless you can find them in a specialty store or Middle Eastern supermarket. They’re widely available in the UK but not sure about over here, which is why I make my own.
Moroccan preserved lemons only take a few minutes to make and are a wonderful gift that would brighten up anyone’s kitchen – however, you do have to wait a couple of months until they’re ready to use, so perhaps now’s the time to start thinking about gift-making for the holiday season…
CHICKEN WITH PRESERVED LEMON, CILANTRO & CRANBERRY-WALNUT COUSCOUS
8 chicken thighs on the bone, skin and excess fat removed
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
A good pinch of saffron
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
2 tablespoons of runny honey
Approx 1 pint (500ml) of water
Sea salt, freshly ground black pepper
1 medium-sized preserved lemon, seeds removed and chopped finely
A good handful of fresh cilantro leaves (coriander), chopped
For the couscous:
8-9oz (250g) of plain couscous
2oz (50g) of dried cranberries or golden raisins
2 oz (50g) of toasted walnut pieces or pine nuts
3 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of olive oil
14 fl oz (400ml) of hot chicken or vegetable stock
Season the chicken pieces and arrange in a single layer in a deep, wide saute pan with a lid.
Add the onion, garlic, saffron, cumin, coriander and honey then pour in the water and bring to a rapid boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, remove any scum that appears on the surface, put the lid on and let it simmer for 30-35 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through. Add the chopped preserved lemon and continue to cook uncovered, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about 8-10 minutes more. Fold in the chopped cilantro/coriander leaves just before serving.
While the sauce is thickening, make the couscous. Put the dry couscous in a large bowl with the dried fruit and pour the hot stock over. Cover for about 5 minutes then fluff it up with a fork and fold in the toasted nuts, lemon juice and olive oil.
Check the seasoning and pile the couscous into warmed individual bowls, topped with the chicken and sauce.