Dining al desko: Chicken tagine with preserved lemons

This is a great meal to prepare at the weekend when you have plenty of time on your hands. Although it takes a while to cook, you simply put everything together and then abandon it while it cooks. Make plenty extra and put the leftovers in Tupperware dishes to take to work during the week. Though tagine is normally made in clay pots, this recipe works just as well in a normal saucepan as long as it has a tight fitting lid.

Chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives

  • Pinch saffron
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 50g butter
  • Olive oil
  • 2 onions, roughly diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 chicken legs, divided at the joints
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 preserved lemons
  • 200g green olives
  • Handful parsley, finely chopped
  1. Crush the strands of saffron in a pestle and mortar and pour over boiling water. Set aside.
  2. Add the butter and olive oil to the pan. Add the onions when the butter has melted and cook for a few mins.
  3. Add the garlic and the ground spices.
  4. Add the chicken pieces and fry for 5 mins on each side to seal.
  5. Pour over the saffron water and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Pour over enough water to barely cover the chicken.
  7. Place a lid on the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook for two hours.
  8. Add the preserved lemon peel and the olives and cook for another 15 mins.
  9. Serve with couscous, potatoes or bread sprinkled with fresh parsley.
Preserved lemons

To preserve your own lemons, take 6 unwaxed lemons (the Maltese variety work well) and cut a cross at the top and bottom of the lemons. Pack with sea salt and place in a tight fitting jar. Cover the lemons with lemon juice and top with a good layer of olive oil to seal. Seal the jar tightly and leave in a dark place for one month (they will last about a year).

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Rachel Zammit Cutajar

Rachel’s life has been one recipe after the other for almost 10 years. Though she is no longer editor of Gourmet Today magazine, food still takes centre stage. She is a freelance writer and Succeed’s resident chef. To balance the inevitable calorie intake she has become a reluctant runner and likes to lift weights, though still loves a day on the sofa binge-watching absolutely anything (good).