Chicken and preserved lemons

For a Moroccan meal try Sophie Grigson's delicious recipe for a chicken tagine flavoured with spices, olives and preserved lemon
By Sophie Grigson
Chicken and preserved lemons
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 1 large chicken
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 2 chicken livers
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 300 ml water
  • pinch of strands saffron, (optional)
  • 1 preserved lemons
  • 115 g mixed olives, (ideally Moroccan, if not Gaeta, or Greek Kalamata olives)
  • black pepper


1. Trim the flaps of excess fat from the chicken at the opening to the stomach cavity, and remove any other lumps of fat you can locate. Truss the bird firmly, by tucking the ends of the legs into the opening and tying them in place with string. Rub the turmeric, ginger and cumin over the chicken, and then smear over half the garlic. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then cover and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 12 hours.

2. Put the remaining garlic, the onion, the chicken livers, the olive oil and water into a casserole or saucepan, or a tagine large enough to take the chicken. Stir and bring to the boil.

3. Add the chicken and reduce the heat so that the liquid barely simmers. Cover the pan, leaving just a small gap for steam to escape, and cook for 1 and a half to 2 hours, turning the chicken frequently so that the flesh is partially steamed and partially simmered until tender.

4. Meanwhile soak the saffron, if using, in a tablespoon of hot water. Scrape the pulp out of the lemon and discard. Cut the skin into strips, rinse thoroughly, drain and reserve.

5. Rinse the olives. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the olives and blanch for 1 minute, to remove excess salt. Drain thoroughly.

6. Once the chicken is cooked through remove it from the casserole dish and keep warm. Remove the chicken livers, quarter them and reserve them too.

7. Stir the strips of preserved lemon, the olives and the saffron into the remaining sauce in the pan. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

8. Serve the chicken with the sauce spooned over and around it, scattering the bits of liver in amongst the olives and lemon.

Rate This Recipe