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.
- 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
*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.