Chicken Tagine With Olives and Apricots
- 6 chicken quarters, excess fat trimmed
- Kosher salt
- 2 lemons
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron threads
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 cup dried apricots, sliced in half crosswise
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds
- 1 1/2 cups small green Greek or Picholine olives, pitted
- Cooked couscous, for serving (optional)
Sprinkle the chicken all over with 2 teaspoons salt. Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
Meanwhile, thinly slice 1 lemon; spread out the slices and sprinkle generously with salt on both sides. Stack the slices on a plate and let stand at room temperature, at least 20 minutes and up to 3 hours.
Pat the chicken dry. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 3 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add half of the chicken, skin-side down; cover and cook until the skin is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Discard the excess oil.
Add the butter, onion, garlic, ginger, coriander, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, saffron and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until the onion softens, about 5 minutes; stir in the cilantro and parsley. Push the onion mixture to one side, then add the chicken to the pot, skin-side up. Spoon some of the onion mixture over the chicken and add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low; cover and gently simmer, 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the apricots, 1 cup water and the honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat; cover and cook until the apricots are plump, about 15 minutes. Uncover and cook until the liquid is syrupy, about 15 more minutes; set aside. Cook the almonds in the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Set aside on paper towels.
Chop the salted lemon slices into small pieces; add to the pot with the chicken along with the olives and the juice of the remaining lemon. Cover and continue cooking until the chicken is tender, about 20 more minutes. Arrange the chicken on a platter. Top with the olive sauce, apricot mixture and almonds. Serve with couscous.
Photograph by Christina Holmes
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