In the following tasty and easy to prepare dish, cooked green olives are the dominant flavor component, and impart their unique flavor to the chicken and the sauce. While the concept of cooked olives is not widely familiar in many cuisines, it is an integral part of the Moroccan cuisine, as well as other Mediterranean cuisines, such as the French, Spanish, Italian, Greek and more, and the dish was inspired by them.
The depth of flavor is amazing, considering the dish uses a very short ingredients list. The olives add a unique tangy and salty flavor to the chicken, and are served as a vegetable side dish with it. Adding freshly grated tomatoes, garlic, preserved lemon, spices and cilantro, to the sauce, enhances the flavors even more. This dish will delight anyone who loves olives. Try it and enjoy.
* Though I prefer green olives for this dish, other types can be used instead. Bear in mind that they vary in levels of bitterness/saltiness, so adjust the seasoning accordingly.
* Preserved lemons can be found in specialty stores, or online.
* The dish can be prepared in advance, and kept, covered, in the fridge overnight. For best results, reheat in the pot, not in the microwave.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Braising time: 55 minutes
4 medium (1.65 lbs (750 grams)) chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on (preferably air-chilled)
1 tsp salt + more if needed
1½ jars (10.5oz/300 grams) pitted Manzanilla olives stuffed with pimentos (see notes)
1 large tomato, skinned, finely grated
1 Tbs tomato paste
½ tsp hot paprika
½ tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp cumin powder
½ tsp freshly ground four peppers mix
2 Tbs olive oil
4-5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ cup chicken stock or water
2 Tbs chopped preserved lemon (see notes)
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped + for serving
1. Sprinkle the chicken with the salt, on both sides. Leave at room temperature for 10 minutes.
2. Drain the olives into a small pot. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Drain, and repeat the process. Set aside.
3. In a small container, mix the grated tomato with the tomato paste, spices and stock.
4. Heat the oil in a large wide pot, over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and fry for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden. Set aside.
5. Add the garlic to the pot, and fry for 1-2 minutes, just until it softens. Add the tomato mixture and preserved lemon, and mix well. Add the chicken and drained olives, cover the pot and bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped cilantro on top. Reduce the heat to low, and braise, covered, for 40 minutes. Let rest, covered, for 5 minutes.
6. Place a paper towel on top, to absorb some of the oil that accumulated on top. Serve with toasted country bread, or with freshly cooked Basmati rice (click HERE for recipe). Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves.