Chicken Legs, Preserved Lemons, Green Olives

Mourad Lahlou of Aziza makes this dish in his restaurant, but it’s easily adaptable to home. The only hurdle is the spices. The spices Mourad uses are ones that he grew up with in Morocco, but you can substitute whatever sounds good to you – or even make the recipe without spices. Think of it like a great basic recipe with some advanced level seasoning.

6 chicken legs with thighs, trimmed of extra fat
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions
2 tablespoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
6 quarters preserved lemon rind (write us for the recipe if you want to make it yourself!)
1/2 cup pitted cracked green olives
4 tablespoons more unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
2 teaspoons chopped cilantro

Generously salt the chicken legs on all sides and let sit at room temperature for one hour. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large pan over medium-high heat.  Add 3 of the chicken legs and cook, turning once, for 3-4 minutes on each side, until the are well browned.  Remove the legs from the pan, add another tablespoon of butter and cook the remaining 3 legs.  Remove from the pan.

Discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat remaining in the pan. Add the onions and saute over medium high heat, stirring often and adjusting the heat as necessary, for 15 minutes, or until they are a rich golden brown. Add the spices and a pinch of salt to the onions and stir constantly for about 1 1/2 minutes to lightly toast the spices.  Return the chicken legs to the pan (you can separate into two pans if it does not fit,) pour in the chicken stock or water, and bring to a boil.

Cover the pan(s) and transfer to a 350 oven, and cook for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and is beginning to pull away from the ends of the drumsticks. [You can lower the heat all the way down and leave on the stove or hot plate if you don’t have an oven.] Remove the legs from the pan.
Return the pan to a burner and simmer for about 3 minutes to reduce the sauce.  Lift some sauce on a spoon; it should coat the spoon.  If it needs to reduce further, continue to simmer as needed.  Add the lemons and olives.  When they are hot, whisk in the rest of the butter and herbs.  Add salt to taste.

Arrange the chicken legs on plates and spoon the sauce, lemons, and olives over them. This is really good with cous cous, as Mourad serves it, or even rice.