Morocco has been on my bucket list for a very long time. Come to think of it I’ve been wanting to go there since I first learned of its existence, since the first time I heard the name Morocco. Far away, exotic land that fascinated me with the simple sound of its name. The culture pulls me in like a magnet and the cuisine definitely seals the deal.
I’ve always had a curiosity for how other people lived, their customs and their food. I die just thinking of gorgeous saffron fields, the art of preserved lemons and the intoxicating smells of Moroccan tagines.
Luckily we can find saffron easily nowadays, and ever once in awhile I treat myself to a little jar of saffron threats for our favorite saffron chicken recipe to bring a little taste of Morroco into my own California kitchen.
It is a simple dish but very complex in flavor with its exotic honey like aroma and gorgeous color gifted by a tiny pinch of saffron.
I have a medium size cast iron taggine pot, but you definitely don’t have to own a traditional pot to recreate any of the Moroccan flavors yourself. Any old cast iron dutch oven pot with a lid will do just fine. I know you will absolutely fall in love with this dish.
- 3 lb organic chicken cut into pieces ( use your favorite cuts I used boneless skinless thighs)
- 1 small onion -diced
- 3 cloves garlic -minced
- 4 parsley sprigs
- 1/2 c white wine
- 1 1/2 c vegetable or chicken stock -low sodium
- 1 pinch saffron about 12 treads
- 1 pinch sweet paprika
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 strip lemon peel
- the zest from 1 organic lemon
- the juice from 1/2 lemon + more to taste
- sea salt to your taste
- 1 c organic frozen green peas -optional
Heat up the stock and infuse it with the saffron , let it sit while while working on the chicken. Dry the chicken well on paper towels and sprinkle it generously on both sides with the sea salt and a pinch of paprika. The paprika will help with the browning and enhance the color from the saffron.
In a Moroccan tagine or wide enameled cast iron pot heat up 2 -3 tbsp of the olive oil on medium low flame, just enough to coat the bottom nicely and sear the chicken on both sides until nicely golden brown. Work in batches as not to overcrowd the pan and add more oil in between batches if necessary. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.
Add the onion with a pinch of sea salt to the pot with the chicken drippings and saute until translucent then add the garlic and cook for about 30 seconds until it starts to release its flavor. Deglaze the pot with the wine making sure to scrape all the brown bits from the bottom. Allow it to simmer until reduced by half.
Add the chicken back to the pot together with the parsley sprigs, lemon peel and the saffron infused stock. Bring to a simmer and cover with a lid and allow it to simmer on low flame for 35 minutes then cook partially covered for another 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is fork tender. (If adding green peas this is the time to do it, cook an addition minute or so until the peas are heated through ). Remove from heat, discard the lemon peel and parsley sprigs and stir in the butter. Squeeze the lemon over the top, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and lemon zest and serve with a side of rice or cous-cous.