Moroccan Chicken with Egg and Lemon

Before I get into this – keep in touch! I’ve updated Cara’s Cravings on Facebook and I hope you’ll “like” me today!

Have you ever bought something new that simply lead to the necessity of buying lots of other new things? You know, like that Wii that was pretty much useless until you bought the extra controllers and charging station, balance board, and steering wheel? That’s kind of like what happened when I got my copy of Paula Wolfert’s Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking. Except that I was lucky enough to win the book through a giveaway on my friend Shulie’s blog, Food Wanderings. (Side note: when I gave Shulie my address to ship the book, she realized right away that her in-laws live practically around the corner from me – how ironic is that!) I didn’t own any clay pots, but I figured I could get by, adapting the recipes to cast iron and stainless pieces. But when I started reading about Wolfert’s collection of clay pots from all around the world, and how each one has a unique story and dish associated with it, I knew I had to put the book down until I could get some of my own. Fortunately, Hanukkah was right around the corner. My previously empty wish list (“but I really don’t need anything!!”) was suddenly full of clay pots in several shapes, sizes and colors. My family came through, and I even bought a few pieces myself.

 That’s my new tagine! Thanks, Roger and Peg!

I no longer had any excuses, except that I wanted to challenge myself with a recipe out of my comfort zone. Something new in terms of ingredients and flavors, and that would require more time and effort than I typically put into a meal for just the two of us. So I waited a few more weeks, to take advantage of some much-needed holiday time off near the end of the month, and chose a recipe I perceived as quite different from any other tagine I’d heard of: Moroccan Chicken with Egg and Lemon.I knew it was the one because even as I read the recipe over and over again, I couldn’t imagine at all how it was supposed to turn out. Usually I can conjure up some sort of picture and taste, but this had me totally stumped, and therefore, completely intrigued.

At first I pictured poached eggs on top of some kind of chicken stew, but then I realized that the eggs get whisked into the sauce. That would definitely be new and different to me, perhaps like a Greek avgolemono sauce. But as I kept going over the ingredients – saffron, ginger, cinnamon, olives – and Wolfert’s description of the velvety, custard-like sauce, I gave up. This was something else entirely, and I wouldn’t figure it out until I experienced it.

And I can honestly say, I’m so glad I did. The sauce was, as Paula promised, thick and velvety. I loved how it was smooth and creamy, but its richness came from the unique combination of warm saffron and ginger with tangy lemon and olive. Despite the desire to keep tasting more, a little went a long way. Ben proclaimed this to be one of the best things I’ve made in a long time – but had he not told me, I still would have known from the way he kept spooning more of the addictingly delicious sauce on his plate. The only thing I would change next time is to make the full recipe and invite some lucky people over to enjoy it with us, because this is a company-worthy dish that would totally impress.

To go along with it, I made a simple chopped vegetable fattoush salad and a Moroccan eggplant salad – another big winner, which I’ll be sharing soon in another post (trust me, I didn’t wait very long to make it again!) Some warm bread to soak up the extra sauce would be a welcome addition too.


Moroccan Chicken with Lemon and Eggs

Serves 4-8, adapted from Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking

Even though this recipe was new to me in so many ways, I still took some liberty to make a few changes which better suited my cooking style and ingredients I had on hand. Changes are noted in italics.

4 large whole chicken legs, separated into drumsticks and thighs, to make 8 pieces (or a mixture of breasts and thighs, boneless or bone-in, skinless or not)
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, soaked in hot water
3 large cloves of garlic, peeled
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature
1 tablespoon smen or 1 additional tablespoon unsalted butter

1 large onion, grated, rinsed, and squeezed dry (or finely chopped onion)
1/2 of a preserved lemon rind, trimmed and diced
16-18 pitted picholine olives, washed, dranined, and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
4 large eggs
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

About 2 hours before serving, rinse the chicken and pat dry. Trim away excess fat. 

In a mortar, pound garlic to a paste with 1 teaspoon of salt. Blend in the ginger, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, cinnamon, softened butter, and the smen. Or combine the ingredients in a mini food processor. Gradually stir (blend) in the hot saffron water, as if making a mayonnaise. Mix in half of the grated onion and pour into the tagine. Place the chicken pieces, skin side up, on top, and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

Cover the tagine and set over medium-low heat. Cook without disturbing for 45 minutes, or until chicken is tender. Transfer the chicken pieces to a broiling pan, skin side-up, and pat dry.

Preheat the broiler. In a medium bowl, combine preserved lemon, olives, cilantro and parsley.

Skim off most of the fat from the liquid in the tagine, reserving about 1/4 cup (if using skinless chicken, there will likely not be much fat to skim). Pour the degreased liquid from the tagine into the bowl with the lemon, olives and fresh herbs.

Return the tagine to the heat and add the rest of the onion, and half of the reserved fat or a splash of olive oil. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is lightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Scrape the onion into the bowl and mix to combine. Set aside. Do not wash the tagine.

Brush the remaining reserved fat over the chicken legs and thighs, and run them under the broiler, for about 5 minutes, to crisp the skin. This step may be omitted if using skinless chicken; or you may still choose to brown it quickly, without any additional fat. Keep the chicken warm while finishing the sauce.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the tagine over medium-low heat. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until well blended; season with a pinch of salt and pepper. When the butter is foaming, add the eggs, stirring gently, and continually scraping the bottom. As the eggs begin to thicken, gradually add the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring slowly, until a creamy consistency is reached. Immediately remove from the heat and stir in the sauce mixture. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Nestle the broiled chicken, skin side-up, in the custardy sauce. Cover and let stand for a few minutes. Serve warm.

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45 Responses to “Moroccan Chicken with Egg and Lemon”

  1. 1

    Em — January 7, 2011 @ 3:36 pm Reply

    OH MY! This sounds absolutely fantastic! Now all I need is a tangine :)

  2. 2

    Bree — January 7, 2011 @ 3:54 pm Reply

    The flavors in this dish sound amazing!

  3. 3

    Jennifurla — January 7, 2011 @ 5:08 pm Reply

    It is just veautiful! Never had anything like this, and now I need to.

  4. 4

    Dawn — January 7, 2011 @ 5:37 pm Reply

    1) Very jealous of your stove. 2)I'm very confused about trying to get my blog posts on facebook. And I think I already like you on there but I'm not sure? 3) I need to get one of those clay pots because I have a secondary new years resolution of cooking more moroccan dishes and tangines. 4) In answer to your gluten free breadcrumb question. I use glutino just cause I haven't tried any others. It works ok and Gabby seems to like it but I can't compare.XOXO!

  5. 5

    Shannon — January 7, 2011 @ 5:40 pm Reply

    hmmm, now you've got me intrigued. guess i'll need to add a clay pot and this cookbook to my list ;)

  6. 6

    That Girl — January 7, 2011 @ 6:29 pm Reply

    I want a trading tagine so badly, but that and the paella pan will have to wait till we move somewhere with actual storage space for my cookery tools

  7. 7

    Meghan — January 7, 2011 @ 7:06 pm Reply

    This looks amazing Cara!!! I need to start looking into clay pot cooking. By the way, you're kitchen is gorgeous!!!

  8. 8

    Shulie — January 7, 2011 @ 10:03 pm Reply

    Nice job Cara!! I made a version of this from another one of Paula's books 'couscous…' several times in the past and it is a keeper! Yours came out delicious looking! Love tha accompanying salads too!

  9. 9

    janet — January 7, 2011 @ 10:05 pm Reply

    Cara, I have yet to cook from my own tagine. I thought I might need a heat diffuser, which is why I have waited. Did you feel you needed one? I am also not sure if I can use mine in the oven, because most places say not to, and the point of the tagine is to have the cooling effect from the cone.Btw, you have inspired me to try something like this as well. What kind of substitution do you think would be good to make this vegetarian? When I flipped through Roden's book, not many recipes interested me. (I have made the eggplant and lentil dish though, which is also phenomenol). I think there is also a kefta in tomato sauce recipe, which was one of my favourite dishes in Morocco.I look forward to following you on your own tagine adventures. :)

  10. 10

    Cara — January 8, 2011 @ 2:09 pm Reply

    Janet, I did not use a heat diffuser because I have a gas stove – a lot of what I read suggested using one for an electric stove, though. Regarding putting it in the oven, I think that would be fine! After all these pieces are fired in kilns at much higher temperatures, right? I could see trying this rich, custardy egg lemon sauce with thick slices of portobello mushrooms, perhaps.Hope you're having a great weekend so far!

  11. 11

    Get Healthy with Heather — January 8, 2011 @ 2:16 pm Reply

    That looks amazing! I've never cooked in a tagine before, but your meal makes me want to!

  12. 12

    Maria — January 8, 2011 @ 2:34 pm Reply

    I love your orange tagine! So fun!

  13. 13

    Lizzy — January 8, 2011 @ 3:08 pm Reply

    My aunt has a tagine… looks like a fun way to cook. And Im insanely jealous of your kitchen!!

  14. 14

    grace — January 9, 2011 @ 10:10 pm Reply

    what a glorious way to break in your tagine! seriously, cara, this dish has it all. WELL done.

  15. 15

    Bridget — January 11, 2011 @ 1:09 pm Reply

    I Love Medeteranean food! I think I need that cookbook…and therefore a tagine! Yours is beautiful! This dish sounds awesome!!

  16. 16

    Bridget — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    I Love Medeteranean food! I think I need that cookbook…and therefore a tagine! Yours is beautiful! This dish sounds awesome!!

  17. 17

    grace — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    what a glorious way to break in your tagine! seriously, cara, this dish has it all. WELL done.

  18. 18

    grace — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    what a glorious way to break in your tagine! seriously, cara, this dish has it all. WELL done.

  19. 19

    Cara — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    Janet, I did not use a heat diffuser because I have a gas stove – a lot of what I read suggested using one for an electric stove, though. Regarding putting it in the oven, I think that would be fine! After all these pieces are fired in kilns at much higher temperatures, right? I could see trying this rich, custardy egg lemon sauce with thick slices of portobello mushrooms, perhaps.Hope you're having a great weekend so far!

  20. 20

    janet — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    Cara, I have yet to cook from my own tagine. I thought I might need a heat diffuser, which is why I have waited. Did you feel you needed one? I am also not sure if I can use mine in the oven, because most places say not to, and the point of the tagine is to have the cooling effect from the cone.Btw, you have inspired me to try something like this as well. What kind of substitution do you think would be good to make this vegetarian? When I flipped through Roden's book, not many recipes interested me. (I have made the eggplant and lentil dish though, which is also phenomenol). I think there is also a kefta in tomato sauce recipe, which was one of my favourite dishes in Morocco.I look forward to following you on your own tagine adventures. :)

  21. 21

    Shulie — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    Nice job Cara!! I made a version of this from another one of Paula's books 'couscous…' several times in the past and it is a keeper! Yours came out delicious looking! Love tha accompanying salads too!

  22. 22

    Maria — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    I love your orange tagine! So fun!

  23. 23

    That Girl — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    I want a trading tagine so badly, but that and the paella pan will have to wait till we move somewhere with actual storage space for my cookery tools

  24. 24

    Meghan — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    This looks amazing Cara!!! I need to start looking into clay pot cooking. By the way, you're kitchen is gorgeous!!!

  25. 25

    Shannon — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    hmmm, now you've got me intrigued. guess i'll need to add a clay pot and this cookbook to my list ;)

  26. 26

    Shannon — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    hmmm, now you've got me intrigued. guess i'll need to add a clay pot and this cookbook to my list ;)

  27. 27

    Dawn — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    1) Very jealous of your stove. 2)I'm very confused about trying to get my blog posts on facebook. And I think I already like you on there but I'm not sure? 3) I need to get one of those clay pots because I have a secondary new years resolution of cooking more moroccan dishes and tangines. 4) In answer to your gluten free breadcrumb question. I use glutino just cause I haven't tried any others. It works ok and Gabby seems to like it but I can't compare.XOXO!

  28. 28

    Jennifurla — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    It is just veautiful! Never had anything like this, and now I need to.

  29. 29

    Bree — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    The flavors in this dish sound amazing!

  30. 30

    Em — March 28, 2011 @ 8:38 pm Reply

    OH MY! This sounds absolutely fantastic! Now all I need is a tangine :)

  31. 31

    Lizzy — March 28, 2011 @ 8:40 pm Reply

    My aunt has a tagine… looks like a fun way to cook. And Im insanely jealous of your kitchen!!

  32. 32

    Get Healthy with Heather — March 28, 2011 @ 8:40 pm Reply

    That looks amazing! I've never cooked in a tagine before, but your meal makes me want to!

  33. 33

    Get Healthy with Heather — March 29, 2011 @ 2:06 am Reply

    That looks amazing! I've never cooked in a tagine before, but your meal makes me want to!

  34. 34

    Shulie — March 29, 2011 @ 2:06 am Reply

    Nice job Cara!! I made a version of this from another one of Paula's books 'couscous…' several times in the past and it is a keeper! Yours came out delicious looking! Love tha accompanying salads too!

  35. 35

    That Girl — March 29, 2011 @ 2:06 am Reply

    I want a trading tagine so badly, but that and the paella pan will have to wait till we move somewhere with actual storage space for my cookery tools

  36. 36

    Jennifurla — March 29, 2011 @ 2:06 am Reply

    It is just veautiful! Never had anything like this, and now I need to.

  37. 37

    Bree — March 29, 2011 @ 2:06 am Reply

    The flavors in this dish sound amazing!

  38. 38

    Jennifurla — April 5, 2011 @ 1:21 am Reply

    It is just veautiful! Never had anything like this, and now I need to.

  39. 39

    Get Healthy with Heather — April 5, 2011 @ 1:21 am Reply

    That looks amazing! I've never cooked in a tagine before, but your meal makes me want to!

  40. 40

    Shulie — April 5, 2011 @ 1:21 am Reply

    Nice job Cara!! I made a version of this from another one of Paula's books 'couscous…' several times in the past and it is a keeper! Yours came out delicious looking! Love tha accompanying salads too!

  41. 41

    grace — April 5, 2011 @ 1:21 am Reply

    what a glorious way to break in your tagine! seriously, cara, this dish has it all. WELL done.

  42. 42

    Lizzy — April 5, 2011 @ 1:21 am Reply

    My aunt has a tagine… looks like a fun way to cook. And Im insanely jealous of your kitchen!!

  43. 43

    Shulie — April 5, 2011 @ 1:21 am Reply

    Nice job Cara!! I made a version of this from another one of Paula's books 'couscous…' several times in the past and it is a keeper! Yours came out delicious looking! Love tha accompanying salads too!

  44. 44

    Dawn — April 5, 2011 @ 1:21 am Reply

    1) Very jealous of your stove. 2)I'm very confused about trying to get my blog posts on facebook. And I think I already like you on there but I'm not sure? 3) I need to get one of those clay pots because I have a secondary new years resolution of cooking more moroccan dishes and tangines. 4) In answer to your gluten free breadcrumb question. I use glutino just cause I haven't tried any others. It works ok and Gabby seems to like it but I can't compare.XOXO!

  45. 45

    Bree — April 5, 2011 @ 1:21 am Reply

    The flavors in this dish sound amazing!

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