Lemon Chicken Tagine

I saw this wonderful Lemon Garlic Chicken with Goat Cheese recipe over at She Cooks He Cleans and I knew I had to give it a try. I’m not generally a fan of “fusion” cooking – no sushi tacos here – but this blending of a classic chicken dish with some Moroccan cooking techniques really piqued my interest.

After a recent trip to our local Greek market, I had some excellent domestic feta and green olives stuffed with garlic in the fridge. I wanted to incorporate them into this dish and push it a just little further east along the Mediterranean.

You could certainly make this dish in a Dutch oven, but I’ve got this rockin’ red Emile Henry tagine, so of course I used that.

Here’s my adaptation:

12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
3 tablespoon fresh herbs, chopped fine (I used thyme, oregano, and rosemary. Some mint or cilantro would work well too.)
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika
6 ounces feta, crumbled, plus more for serving
1 lemon, cut into 8 slices lengthwise
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 (14.5-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1/2 pound green olives stuffed with garlic (or 1/2 pound green olives and 6 cloves of garlic)
1/4 cup dried apricots
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Over medium heat on stove top, heat olive oil in the tagine (or a Dutch oven). Add the onion and cook until it has softened and started to brown a bit (about 5 minutes).

Add the cumin, turmeric, paprika, and salt. Stir and cook until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Add lemon juice and stir to deglaze the pan. Arrange the lemon wedges in the pan. Cover with the garbanzo beans, chicken thighs, herbs, olives, fruit, and tomatoes. Top with feta.

Put the cover on the tagine and move to the oven. Cook for 60 minutes. Remove the lid and check for doneness. The tagine braises the food, so the pan juices should be bubbling and the meat should be very tender. This batch wasn’t quite done at an hour, so I rearranged the thighs so they were covered in the juices, put the lid back on, and let it cook for another 30 minutes.

When done, carefully remove the tagine from the oven.

Tagine safety note: Take the lid off the tangine before removing it, as steam can spit out from under the lid (palm blister). Put the lid on a heat-proof surface and cover with a pot holder to remind you that it is still very hot (finger blister).

Serve straight from the pan with more feta to crumble over top.

The Verdict: ★★★½☆
Amazing mix of flavors – rich chicken bathed in creamy golden juices set off by the salty olives and tangy lemon. I continue to be amazed at how the tagine concentrates flavors.

So what’s with the 3.5 stars? I over-crowded the tagine with too many chicken thighs, so the dish steamed more than braised and I didn’t get the browning I wanted. Eight thighs next time. Also, I really don’t think the fruit brought anything to the party. It distracted from the nice mix of traditional herbs and Moroccan spices. I might add a little more heat to the dish with some black pepper and/or Aleppo pepper.

Many thanks to She Cooks He Cleans for their great recipe.

7 thoughts on “Lemon Chicken Tagine”

  1. That looks luscious, Dave! I like those olives and tomatoes you added, and look forward to trying this with feta cheese.

    Thanks for the shout-out too!

    1. I didn’t care for the fruit either, but my dear wife did. I don’t know that a higher temp would buy you anything. You’d get a shorter cooking time, but I think a braise needs lower temps and longer times to break everything down. After 90 minutes the lemon flesh had disappeared and the rind was soft enough to cut with a fork and had a wonderful flavor.

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