One Pan Moroccan Lemon Olive Chicken… and the olives behind it!
Do you ever stop to wonder who is behind that can of tomatoes, pineapple or olives you pick up in your local grocery store?
I have a confession to make. I generally don’t either – and I’m “in the food business”.
But one of the benefits in writing this blog is that sometimes you have an opportunity to “peek behind the curtain”. In this case, I got a “peek” behind both the Lindsay and Early California labels, attending a dinner hosted by the California Olive Committee.
Over a delicious dinner at Marino Ristorante (which featured olives of course!) I learned a bit about how olives, a childhood favorite, are grown, harvested, cured and canned.
But the best part was meeting one of the growers – Jorge and Julia Inestroza the 4th generation to operate Tenalu Ranch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. We talked about the all the things that impact the quality of an olive – from soil, to weather, to irrigation. I thought I was passionate about olives – but the Inestroza’s take that to a whole ” ‘nother level.” It was clear after 5 minutes in their company that they are incredibly passionate about growing the highest quality olives.
Which probably explains why California Ripe Olives are still a favorite… even after all these years and why I am “passionate” about eating them – especially in dishes like this One Pan Moroccan Lemon Olive Chicken!
After that dinner I was on a bit of an olive kick and decided to re work one of my favorite recipes using olives – Djej M’Chernel – a moroccan dish of chicken with lemons and olives. Like many traditional recipes, this dish has many variations and each household has their own version. I’ve been making a version from Paula Wolfert’s the Food of Morroco for years. The original dish calls for a whole chicken (or in my case, pieces) that are rubbed with a spice mixture and left in the fridge overnight. Traditionally cooked in a tangine, it is a wonderfully flavorful and fragrant chicken dish that combines two of my favorite flavors – lemons and olives.
Since I’m notorious for not planning ahead though, I wanted to streamline the dish into one that I could easily make on a weeknight, no advance planning needed. This One Pan Moroccan Lemon Olive Chicken is the result. With all the flavors of the original, it satisfies my craving – no need to plan ahead! Remember to serve it over couscous or rice to sop up all those tasty olives and sauce!!!
Looking for some other easy peasy chicken recipes like this One Pan Moroccan Lemon Olive Chicken? Then check out my:
- Chicken Marbella with Boneless Chicken Thighs
- 30 minute Country Captain Chicken
- Yogurt, Lemon and Mint Grilled Chicken
- 1/2 lemon thinly sliced
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 medium sized chicken breasts or thighs with or without skin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups yellow onions cut into 1/4 inch dice
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- pinch of turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 Tablespoon saffron water *
- 1/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup Lindsay natural green olives
- 1 preserved lemon diced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 Tablespoons fresh parsley minced
- * Saffron water: Dissolve 1 pinch of saffron threads in 1 Tablespoon of warm water.
- Pat the chicken breasts/thighs dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
- Heat a large saute pan with a lid over medium high heat.
- Add the lemon slices and cook until slices are caramelized. About 3 minutes.
- Remove the lemon slices and reserve.
- Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat.
- When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken breast/skin side down.
- Cook for 3- 5 minutes until chicken is browned. If chicken releases easily from the pan, it's ready to turn.
- Turn chicken and cook until remaining side is browned.
- Remove chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Add remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the pan.
- Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent - about 7 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger, paprika, cumin and turmeric, cinnamon and pepper.
- Stir for about 1 minute.
- Add the saffron water and regular water.
- Stir, scraping up the brown bits on the pan.
- Add the chicken pieces back to the pan.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Check the chicken for doneness.
- Remove the lid and add the olives, preserved lemon and fresh lemon juice.
- Stir to combine.
- Serve over couscous or rice.
- Garnish with the lemon slices and fresh parsley.