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Tender, bold braised chicken inspired by the community ovens of Marrakech
Milk Street Bowtie Lemon-Saffron Chicken (Tangia)

Lemon-Saffron Chicken (Tangia)

Appears in March-April 2018

1 hour

Lemon-Saffron Chicken (Tangia)

Free

Tangia—which originates in Marrakech and often is slow-cooked in the community wood-fired ovens that heat bathhouses—is a stew-like dish of fall-apart tender hunks of lamb bathed in a thick, but spare broth rich with saffron, turmeric, cumin, ginger, garlic and lemon. We got a lesson in cooking tangia the traditional way from taxi driver Youssef Boufelja. Lamb is typical, but we use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. In Morocco, preserved lemons lend a gentle acidity, lightening the richness. For an easier version, we get similar flavor from lemon zest and juice—as well as chopped green olives for brininess—added at the end of cooking. Serve with warmed, halved pita bread for scooping up the meat and thickened sauce.

5 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
12 medium garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
3 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
3 tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus ¼ cup lemon juice
Ingredients
  • 5

    teaspoons ground cumin, divided

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 3

    pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry

  • 2
  • 2

    medium yellow onions, finely chopped

  • 12

    medium garlic cloves, chopped

  • 2

    teaspoons ground turmeric

  • 2

    teaspoons ground ginger

  • 2

    teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1

    teaspoon saffron threads, crushed

  • 3

    tablespoons salted butter, cut into 3 pieces

  • ½

    cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped

  • 3

    tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus ¼ cup lemon juice

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Mains

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Lemon-Saffron Chicken (Tangia)

Get Ready to Cook

4

Servings

1 hour

Tip

Don’t reduce the lemon zest or juice. The zest provides both flavor and fragrance, and the juice adds tang and acidity. You'll need 3 to 4 lemons to get 3 tablespoons grated zest; a wand-style grater works best.

Ingredients
  • 5

    teaspoons ground cumin, divided

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 3

    pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry

  • 2
  • 2

    medium yellow onions, finely chopped

  • 12

    medium garlic cloves, chopped

  • 2

    teaspoons ground turmeric

  • 2

    teaspoons ground ginger

  • 2

    teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1

    teaspoon saffron threads, crushed

  • 3

    tablespoons salted butter, cut into 3 pieces

  • ½

    cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped

  • 3

    tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus ¼ cup lemon juice

Step 1 of 4

Season the chicken

2
teaspoons ground cumin
2
teaspoons kosher salt
3
pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and patted dry

In a small bowl, stir together 2 teaspoons of the cumin and 2 teaspoons salt. Set aside. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper.

Step 2 of 4

Cook and coat the chicken

2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2
medium yellow onions, finely chopped
12
medium garlic cloves, chopped
3
teaspoons ground cumin
2
teaspoons ground turmeric
2
teaspoons ground ginger
2
teaspoons ground coriander
cups water
1
teaspoon saffron threads, crushed

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.


Add the remaining 3 teaspoons cumin, the turmeric, ginger and coriander, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in 1½ cups water and the saffron, scraping up any browned bits.


Nestle the chicken into the liquid, turning to coat. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes at a gentle simmer.

Step 3 of 4

Turn and cover

Using tongs, turn the chicken. Cover and cook until tender, another 25 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate.


Bring the liquid in the pot to a simmer over medium-high and cook, stirring, until thickened, 10 to 14 minutes.

Step 4 of 4

Return to the pot, season and serve

3
tablespoons salted butter, cut into 3 pieces
½
cup pimento-stuffed green olives, chopped
3
tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus ¼ cup lemon juice
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Return the chicken to the pot and stir. The chicken will break up a bit. Off heat, add the butter, stirring until melted, then stir in the olives and lemon zest and juice.


Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a platter and serve with the cumin-salt mixture to sprinkle over, to taste.

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Lemon-Saffron Chicken (Tangia)

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