Friday, April 28, 2017

Signature chicken olive and fennel with preserved lemon

The cool change into winter hasn't done any wonders for my health of late. Hit with the flu at the start of the month to the point of being bed ridden for a few days, then a double whammy of mastitis and laryngitis at the end of the month, things can only look up from here, right?

I've only started feeling like myself after finishing a course of antibiotics and been craving some hearty meals. This tagine recipe has been in my repertoire for a few years and too good not to share.

I love that it's a one pot dish with not very much to prep as I always have one of the kids hanging off me. I love to serve this with wholemeal couscous soaking up the delicious sauce. If you end up with any leftovers, I find that this dish tastes better the next day. Don't take my word for it and see for yourself.

Feeds 4 - 6 people

20 mins preparation
60 mins cooking time


10-12 skinless chicken thigh cutlets
1/2 cup (75g) plain flour
1 tsp paprika

100mL olive oil
2 onions finely chopped
4 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 fennel bulbs thinly sliced

400g can cherry tomato
3cups (750mL) chicken stock
1 tbs honey

1 strip of peel from a lemon and zest from 1/2 an orange
1/4 cup (35g) currants
1 cinnamon quill
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
16 saffron threads (optional)
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1-2 green chillies roughly chopped
1/2 cup (60g) green Sicilian olives
1/2 preserved lemon (optional)

Cous cous
200g wholemeal couscous
sprig of mint
1 tbs parsley
1cm of preserved lemon chopped finely


1. Preheat oven to 200 Celcius.

2. Place chicken in a bag with flour and paprika. Season and shake until chicken is well covered.

3. Heat 1 tbs oil in a cast iron over med-high heat and in batches, brown chicken turning for 3 - 4 minutes adding more oil as needed.

4. Transfer browned chicken to a bowl to add later.

5. Reduce heat to medium. Heat 2 tbs oil in cast iron then add onion and cook stirring for 5 minutes or until softened.

6. Add garlic and fennel and cook for 2 minutes to lightly soften.

7. Add tomatoes, preserved lemon, olives, stock, zest, currants, spices, fresh chilli and honey.

8. Place browned chicken on top of vegetables and just submerged in stock. 

9. Bake for 1 hour in the oven (or simmer on stove top for 45mins over medium low heat).

10. Remove cinnamon quill and strip of lemon peel.

11. Season with salt.

Making couscous
12. Add 200mL boiling water to the couscous into a bowl and place a plate on top and let it stand for 6 minutes.

13. Fluff with fork and add the parsley, mint and preserved lemon.

14. Serve chicken tagine on a bed of couscous.


*This tagine can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours or frozen. To serve, bring to room temperature then reheat in a 180C oven for 20-30 minutes until heated through.

*If feeding for 2 people, I use 2 chicken Marylands with skin and halve the vegetables (1 fennel, 1 onion) and 500mL chicken stock.

*Use a tagine baking dish with lid or if you don't have this a cast iron with lid will do.

*You can substitute the cherry tomatoes with any canned tomatoes tin but I love the pops of flavour with the cherry tomatoes.

*I usually add parsley and mint with a little preserved lemon to toss through the couscous.