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Moroccan Tagine of Chicken with Fennel

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Moroccan Tagine of Chicken with Fennel

Chicken and Fennel Tagine

Photo © Christine Benlafquih

Fennel – bisbas in Moroccan Arabic – adds subtle anise flavor to this easy chicken tagine with preserved lemons and olives.

For stronger licorice flavor, add the optional anise seed or fennel seed. My own preference is to use a bit of Ras El Hanout instead.

Either a traditional tagine or heavy-bottomed pot can be used to prepare Moroccan chicken and fennel. The cooking time will be reduced if using a pot.

This meal is traditionally served directly from the tagine or a communal plate, with each person eating from his own side of the dish. Serve Moroccan bread for scooping up the chicken and vegetables.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes

Total Time: 2 hours, 35 minutes

Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into pieces and skin removed
  • 1 kg (about 2 lbs.) fennel bulbs, cut into quarters*
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • I medium onion, sliced into rings
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seed or anise seed (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ras El Hanout (optional)
  • fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 to 1 cup water
  • handful of parsley and/or cilantro sprigs, tied into a bouquet
  • 1 or 2 handfuls of red olives
  • 1 preserved lemon, quartered and seeds removed

Preparation:

*To prep the fennel for cooking, peel off the outer layer or two from the bulbs, and cut off the thickest part (but not all) of the base before quartering.

Pour about half of the olive oil into the base of a tagine or the bottom of a wide pot or Dutch oven. Distribute the sliced onion over the bottom.

In a bowl, mix the chicken with the chopped onion, garlic, and spices. Arrange the chicken (meat side down) in the center of the tagine or pot, and distribute the chopped onions all around.

Swirl 1/2 cup of water (use 1 cup of water if cooking in a Dutch oven or pot) in the bowl to clean it of the spices, and add the water to the tagine.

Arrange the fennel quarters around the perimeter of the tagine or pot, place the parsley bouquet on top of the chicken, and drizzle the remaining olive oil over all. Add the olives and preserved lemon.

If cooking in a tagine, cover and place the tagine on a diffuser over medium-low heat. Allow the tagine to heat slowly to a simmer, and then reduce the heat to the lowest temperature necessary to maintain the simmer. Cook the chicken for about two hours or until very tender, interrupting the cooking only once to turn the chicken over for the last 45 minutes of cooking time. Discard the parsley, and serve.

If cooking in a pot or Dutch oven, cover and bring the chicken to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low, and continue cooking, turning the chicken once or twice, for another hour, or until the chicken is tender enough to pick easily from the bones. Reduce the liquids if necessary, discard the parsley, and serve.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
Superb and so easy!, Member DocJ.

I only recently discovered the wonders of Moroccan cuisine! It started with dinner at an amazing Moroccan restaurant in Paris. The smells, textures and tastes were out of this world, and I was determined to learn to make some of these exotic dishes. When I got home, I discovered Christine Benlafquih's recipes on the internet. I have made several of them and have not been disappointed yet. I use a large Dutch oven for the tagine dishes, and it works perfectly every time. The chicken with fennel tagine is mouth-wateringly delicious. It is perhaps a little more subtle in flavor than some of the other spice-laden Moroccan dishes, but the ras el hanout gives a tantalizing and complex sweetness, the fennel imparts a unique, licorice-like taste, while the preserved lemons and olives add just the right hint of tartness. I enjoy serving it over jasmine rice cooked with a cinnamon stick and a couple of bay leaves, but that is just my preference, since the rice soaks up the delicious juices. Simmer everything in the pot for about 75 minutes, and the chicken will fall off the bone. I wouldn't change a thing!

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