These preserved lemons have been sitting in the cupboard for seemingly months now. I have actually already used them for making delicious lemony shortbread biscuits (same recipe, just swap the saffron and orange essence for ¼ lemon), but what I really wanted to do was the classic Moroccan dish of chicken with preserved lemons and olives. Whenever I thought about doing this though, I’d google it, realise I didn’t have all the ingredients, and back in the cupboard the jar would go. Anyway, tonight enough was enough and I thought I’d wing it. So, it’s not a classic, authentic dish by any means (leeks certainly aren’t). I didn’t follow a recipe, I just imagined what might go, so it’s not terribly North African in flavour. Perhaps if a boat set sail from North Africa, got shipwrecked off Sicily and subsequently cannoned off the coast of Cannes to Cardigan, the flavours of those shores would be reflected. I don’t really care where it came from, it was damn tasty. I served it with a pilav of green beans and griddled courgette from the garden (based on a pilav from the Moro The Cookbook), piping hot pitta and some yoghurt to balance out the tang (be sure to chop up the lemons very finely).
Roast Chicken With Preserved Lemon, Rosemary and Olives – Serves Two
2 chicken legs
2 chicken wings
1 preserved lemon, rinsed and finely chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 bulb of garlic, cloves removed and squished with skin on
1 handful of rosemary, chopped
1 glass of dry white wine
1 or 2 glasses of chicken stock
1 handful rinsed green olives
Pilav of Green Beans and Griddle Courgette
100g basmati rice
2 spring onions, chopped
A handful of green beans, chopped
The remaining Chicken Stock
1 courgette, griddled in olive oil and seasoned
Mixture of fennel tops, parsley and chives
2 Pitta Breads
Greek Yoghurt, sprinkled with leftover pilav herbs
Pre-heat the oven to 170c. Add all the ingredients apart from the liquids and olives to a casserole dish, and once the chicken is covered with the herbs seasoning, remove to brown in butter in a frying pan. Add back to the casserole dish, and add the wine to the frying pan to deglaze. Bubble down until about half the liquid is left, and then pour all over the casserole dish. Then pour over the stock, and place in the oven. This will want about one hour in the oven, but every fifteen minutes or so, baste the chicken and turn it, whilst swilling around the vegetables.
Next soak the rice, and rinse thoroughly. Then melt the butter in a saucepan, adding the spring onions to cook on a low heat for about ten minutes. Next add the rice, seasoning and green beans and half the herbs. Then cover with stock (by about 5mm), and cut out a circle of baking paper (and wet it), and place on top. Bring to the boil on a medium to hot heat, and when it comes to the boil cover with a lid and cook for a fast 5 minutes. Then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for a further 5 minutes. Check to make sure all the stock has been absorbed / evaporated, otherwise continue cooking until this is the case. Add most of the remaining herbs (some are for the yoghurt), and then the rice is ready to serve.
In the meantime, in the last 5 minutes of cooking the chicken, add the olives, if the pitta were made ahead of time then heat them up now.