Djej M'chermel [Chicken with Lemon and Olives]
Source: Joyce Goldstein, Mediterranean: The Beautiful Cookbook
- 1 chicken, 3-3.5 lb, cut into 8 pieces, plus liver and giblets
- 1.5 c finely chopped onions
- 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 0.5 tsp ground cumin
- 0.25 tsp ground turmeric or saffron threads crused
- 4 tbs chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tsp salt
- 0.5 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 0.25 c olive oil
- 4 tbs chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
- peel from 1 preserved lemon, cut into long, narrow strips
- 1 c green olives, pitted
In large saucepan over medium-low heat, combine chicken pieces, liver, giblets, onion, garlic, paprika, ginger, cumin, turmeric or saffron, parsley, salt, pepper and oil. Warm gradually, turning the ingredients in the oil for a few minutes, then add the water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer uncovered, occasionally turning the chicken in the sauce, until almost tender, 30-40 minutes.
Remove chicken liver and giblets and mash them well, then return them to the sauce. Add the preserved lemon peel, olives and lemon juice and continue tocook until the chicken is very tender, about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, adding more lemon juice if you like. Transfer to a platter. If the sauce istoo thin, remove onlyt he chicken to the platter and reduce the sauce over high heat. Then spoon the sauce, olivers and lemon strips over the chicken. Serve at once.
This is traditionally served with couscous, which I made straight out of the Near East box, with dashes of cumin and cinnamon.
I scaled this up by half. Chicken didn't come with liver/giblets, which are used here to thicken the sauce. I tried reducing the sauce, but there was too much liquid and too little time, so I wound up with quite a bit. I browned the chicken first, then set it aside and sautéed the onions 8-10 minutes, until translucent. Those are typical approaches in similar dishes, and certainly didn't hurt here. I didn't have cilantro, so put a little extra parsley in. It would have been better to reduce the flavorful sauce futher, which would have bound it to the chicken better. As it was, the chicken by itself was a little bland, but the couscous readily soaked up the sauce and was delicious.