Chicken Tagine with Smen

chicken tagine simmered in smen, clarified Moroccan butter that gives a distinctive flavour and pungent aroma to the dish.

Serves 4 people

1 chicken, cut into 6 pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons smen
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 preserved lemon
pinch pulverised saffron
3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt and black pepper to taste

Wash the chicken in salted water and drain. Crash 2 cloves of garlic and make into a paste with 2 tablespoons of salt. Rub into the chicken and then rinse under running water until the chicken no longer smells of garlic. Drain and set aside.

Place the chicken pieces in a 5-quart deep casserole and stir in the onion, spices and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss to coat the chicken pieces evenly.

In a blender, puree the parsley with a little water. Add the puree and the smen to the casserole. Cover with water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour turning the meat often and adding water whenever necessary. After 1 hour, remove the chicken and keep warm while the sauce simmers for another full 1 hour.

In a separate frying pan, gently brown the drained pieces of chicken in 2 tablespoons of butter. Remove, cover and keep warm.

After 1 hour, uncover the casserole and boil rapidly to reduce the sauce to a thick consistency. Blend the sauce in a blender jar until smooth. Place the chicken pieces back in the casserole, pour the sauce over and reheat.

Dice the preserved lemon and add to the casserole. Simmer for 5 minutes, adjust seasoning and add the lemon juice. Serve at once.