One of my favorite strategies for moving outside the box of the standard Shabbat dinner menu is to look to the global canon beyond the Eastern European standards I grew up with. The Jewish cuisines of Spain, North Africa, and the Middle East — all warm-weather climates — are particularly ripe with summer cooking inspiration. This chicken dish, for example, is often served on Shabbat by Moroccan Jews, but it was delightfully unfamiliar to me when I first started making it.
Filled with thinly sliced preserved lemon, olives, and a small pantry's worth of spices, it is lighter and brighter than the roast chicken I ate as a child on Shabbat. After I have enjoyed more than my fill, I mop a piece of challah into the sauce and encourage my tablemates to do the same.
Moroccan Chicken with Preserved Lemons
Serves 4 to 6
extra-virgin olive oil
medium yellow onions, halved through the root and thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
garlic, thinly sliced
(480 milliliters) chicken or vegetable broth
(1.8 kilograms) skin-on chicken legs and thighs, trimmed of excess fat
preserved lemon, rinsed, pith removed, and peel thinly sliced
(80 grams) green olives, pitted and thinly sliced
fresh lemon juice
Roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro for sprinkling
Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onions, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Meanwhile, sprinkle the chicken pieces with pepper, then add to the pot along with the preserved lemon. (It’s okay if not all the chicken pieces are fully submerged in the broth.) Cover, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and almost falling off the bone, 50 to 60 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to transfer the chicken to a platter.
Add the olives and lemon juice to the pot. Raise the heat to high, bring to a boil, and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and spoon the sauce over the chicken. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot.
Reprinted with permission from Modern Jewish Cooking by Leah Koenig, copyright (c) 2015. Published by Chronicle Books.