North African Braised Chicken with Saffron, Olives and Preserved Lemons

Serves 4


8 brined, drained chicken thighs or legs
salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, sliced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 cup pitted, halved green Spanish olives
1 cup long-grain white rice
1 1/4 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1 bay leaf
2 preserved lemons, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
2 tablespoon chopped, toasted almonds

  1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat oil in a soup pot over medium high heat until hot and brown the chicken on all sides. Transfer chicken to a plate.
  3. Quickly add the onion and salt to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two until the garlic is fragrant.  Add the paprika, olives, and rice, then cook, stirring, 1 minute. Nestle the chicken in the rice, adding any juices from plate. Add the wine and simmer, uncovered, 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken stock, saffron, bay leaf, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Arrange the preserved lemon sliced over the top.
  4. Cook, covered, over low heat until the chicken is cooked through, the rice is tender, and most of the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf.  Garnish with parsley and almonds.

To brine chicken: Combine 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup sugar and 2 cups of water in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil to dissolve the salt and sugar.  Remove from heat.  Add 1 quart ice cubes.  Add chicken and brine in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

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