Rock the Casbah

the table is set

Another extremely wonderful supper club event! This time our theme was “Rock the Casbah!” which guaranteed that all of us had The Clash stuck in heads the entire previous week. And we got to eat a lot of amazing Moroccan food.

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olive and lemon chicken

lemon-olive chicken

Somewhere along the line, North African cuisine has become one of my personal comfort foods. There’s something particularly wonderful about tagines with couscous, when it all blends together to create a bowlful of chewy, starchy, meaty deliciousness. The flavors are often pungent, but balanced, often with a good hit of fresh herbs, and I just find it so comforting on a cold evening. Last week I had a real craving for couscous with chicken and preserved lemon, and I must say it did the trick.

Of all the variations I’ve made of Moroccan chicken with preserved lemon and olives, this turned out to be a favorite. I found a recipe by Paula Wolfert that happened to use the sort of olives I had on hand and the right amount of lemon, and it was very successful. I particularly liked how it calls for braising bone-in chicken parts in aromatic broth, then taking out the pieces and roasting them until the skin crisps up and serving them with the reduced sauce. It prevents that soggy chicken skin problem that usually keeps me from braising skin-on pieces.

I didn’t marinate the chicken ahead of time (not my preference, just disorganized) and I left out the mashed chicken livers that the original recipe called for (partly because I didn’t have any, mostly because I don’t care for liver flavor). We served it with Israeli couscous. It was very rich with schmaltz, but sharp with lemon, olive and parsley. The last bottle of viognier from the basement was a perfect match. Continue reading

lamb tagine soup

lamb tagine soup

This was another one of those dishes that, although it was delicious in its first incarnation, was even better as a gussied-up leftover. It makes sense, of course, since a tagine is a braised dish, which tends to be best on its second day. But this, I think, was particularly splendid.

preserved lemon

Usually when we’re in the mood for tagine we make our standby, lamb with dried apricots and chickpeas. This time, though, I decided I really wanted to try an old favorite, a tagine of lamb with preserved lemon, peas and olives, which we hadn’t made for ages. We had to drive all the way to Bellingham for the preserved lemon, because I keep forgetting to make some, but it was worth it. Besides, it meant that we got to eat falafel and schawarma at Mediterranean Specialties for lunch that day. Continue reading