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Moroccan style chicken with preserved lemons

This is a tomatoey, sweetly spiced yet savoury chicken stew, and a great way to cook up cheap cuts of chicken like drumsticks and thighs, as I have used here. I always use free-range or organic chicken, it almost goes without saying this. For people who say free-range or organic chicken is too expensive, well, if you buy thighs and drumsticks rather than breast then it’s much more affordable. 

It cooks in an hour and takes 15 minutes to prep. It also will survive a bit of a slapdash approach and not suffer, so it’s good if you’re not a precise or careful cook, like me! I managed to make this whilst simultaneously negotiating with a very bored two year old to stop emptying the cupboards and drawers / pulling all the books off the shelves – and I’m 39 weeks pregnant – so it really can’t be that hard! 

If you’ve never tried preserved lemons before, I urge you to buy some and give them a go! They add an amazing depth of flavour and a saltiness to dishes such as this, and they keep for ages. If you don’t have them in and want to make this recipe, replace them with about 8 dried apricots for a fruitier, less savoury version. By the way, this went down very well with the toddler (we cut the meat off the bone for him), and would freeze well too I imagine. 

Of course, you could do this in a slow cooker – simply take it to stage 6 (after browning etc) and cook on low for 8 hours / medium for 6 / high for 2.

Serves: 3/4 people

Prep time: 23 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 23 minutes

3 free-range or organic chicken drumsticks and 3 thighs (I bought a mixed box) or 6 drumsticks or thighs
tablespoon of olive oil or rapeseed/vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon ground ginger 
1 onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped finely or minced
2 tablespoons of runny honey 
2 preserved lemons, sliced
250ml chicken stock 
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
handful of chopped fresh coriander 
handful of flaked almonds
freshly ground back pepper


  1. Toss your chicken pieces in the spices and a drizzle of oil. If you can, leave this for an hour or so, or even overnight. Not to worry if you can’t, it doesn’t make that much difference. 
  2. Heat a little oil and brown your chicken in a frying pan over a high heat to get colour and flavour on the skin – and in the pan – for about 10 minutes. Take out once browned and put to one side. 
  3. Turn down heat to low/medium and add your chopped onion. Sweat for about 10 minutes and add your garlic for a further 3. Use a wooden spoon to scrape all the meaty charred bits off the bottom. Be careful not to burn your onions or garlic. 
  4. Put your chicken back in with the onions and garlic. 
  5. Add your hot chicken stock, tomatoes, lemons (or apricots), and runny honey and bring to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook with the lid off to help it thicken for about an hour. 
  6. Stir (getting all the flavoursome bits from around the pan) and grind in some pepper, as well as tossing some flaked almonds in – you won’t need to season with salt as the preserved lemons are very salty. If it’s nice and thick and the chicken is cooked (take a piece out and cut into it to check), then it’s ready. 
  7. This is very nice served with cous cous and also some yoghurt sauce (half a pot of natural yoghurt with a clove of minced garlic and a sprinkle of paprika and cumin – let it down with a little milk and add a sprinkle of salt). 
>> Check out more chicken recipes!


  1. Anonymous
    August 12, 2012 / 4:38 pm

    I must say Rachel I have enjoyed all your scrummy recipes,although I hardly ever have all the ingredients in the cupboard I often compromise with the drieds 'erbs etc which I always have in…..thinking of you at this exciting time with you all the way my sweet…
    Take care all of you Nan xxxxx

  2. November 29, 2012 / 7:10 pm

    Just made this and realised half way through that I was short of honey – I had a tiny bit. Made up the rest of the sweetness with some homemade (not by me) mango chutney which worked a treat!

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