Chicken Marrakesh

10th April, 2010: Posted by G.L. Pease in Main Courses, Moderate

This is actually the dish that inspired the creation of Marrakesh Sunset in the first place. We’d gone out for a lovely Morrocan meal, and I fell in love with a Chicken Tagine, with Citron Confit, or preserved lemon. After its haunting my dreams for a couple weeks, I didn’t just want it, I had to have it. So, I looked up a dozen or so recipes for similar dishes, spent several hours experimenting with the balance of the spices, and this delightfully simple but richly flavored and delicious dish was the result.

This is traditionally cooked in a tagine, a shallow clay pot with a tall, conical lid designed to seal in the goodness. The stew would be braised in the tagine until tender; then, the lid would be removed, and the pot brought to table for service. The recipe here is adapted for the cooktop using a 4-5qt sauteusse, deep skillet or even a Dutch oven, but if you have a tagine, it’s even better.

The recipe scales well, so feel free to double or triple it, increasing the size of the pan as needed. For large batches, you may have to brown the chicken in batches.

Ingredients – serves 4

  • Olive oil
  • 4 Chicken leg quarters, or whole chicken, cut up
  • 1 Medium onion, chopped
  • 3 Cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Marrakesh Sunset
  • 1 Preserved lemon, rinsed and 1/4″ diced (recipe)
  • 1 Cup Kalamata (or green, if you prefer, or both!) olives, sliced
  • 0.5 Cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 0.25 Cup sultanas
  • Chicken stock

Method – about 1 hour

Rinse and dry the chicken, and season it with salt and a little freshly ground black pepper.

In a 4-5qt sauteusse over medium high heat, add enough olive oil to coat the pan, and brown the chicken well, skin side down. Remember, Maillard is our friend. Browning the meat first will bring lots more flavor to the party. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the onions and garlic, and cook until just golden.

Return the chicken to the pan, along with any juices.

Sprinkle with the Marrakesh Sunset, and fry briefly, being careful not to burn the spices.

Add chicken stock to cover

Bring to a boil, adjust seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste, then reduce heat and simmer gently, covered for 30-45 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and tender.

About ten minutes before the chicken is done, add the preserved lemon, olives and sultanas.

When everything is ready, add the cilantro, and serve in the cooking pot, or family style over a platter of fluffy steamed cous cous.

If desired, garnish with a little fresh cilantro.

This is a family favorite, especially on a cold winter’s night. It’s quick and easy to put together, The flavors are deep and exotic, and will warm both body and soul. Serve with an off-dry white, like a nice Riesling, or a hearty, full-bodied Rhône style red.


The traditional tagine is made from ceramic, sometimes painted, sometimes glazed.

There are several versions of the tagine being produced with cast iron bottoms, allowing the use of higher heat for better browning of the meat. East meets west! I still prefer the traditional clay, though.

The tagine is a great way to cook less expensive cuts of meat, slow cooking them until melt-in-your-mouth tender.

If you do this in a tagine, begin by bringing the heat up slowly to medium high. Sweat the aromatics until they just barely begin to color, then add the chicken and the rest of the ingredients. Don’t go for deep browning, and don’t add nearly as much stock as you would in a metal pot. Bring it down to a gentle simmer, and wait. The clay really works its magic here, and the results are fantastic.

3 Responses

  1. Jon Burton Says:

    Ok, dumb question…

    “Sultanas”, you mean the grapes, not the raisins, right?

    I’m getting ready to make this one. Can’t wait! All the others I’ve made from your site are now family favorites.

  2. G.L. Pease Says:

    Nope. Raisins. Small, golden, seedless ones. If you can’t find them, then use the dark ones. But, the golden ones are SO pretty!

  3. Matty Says:

    My wife was not feeling well when I got home today, she asked me to make dinner. I told her to go lay down. I looked in the fridge and saw chicken. Ahhhh I thought. I looked at my spice rack and saw the tin.. Chicken Marrakesh. This dish is so easy. I usually always have these ingredients on hand. I put some Dead on the radio and went to town. Soo easy Greg, and a big hit. The preserved lemons, pulp removed and rinsed gave awesome fresh flavor to the dish. Next