Savory Spice Cooking: Moroccan-Style Chicken With Preserved Lemon and Dates

Laura Shute, co-owner of Savory Spice Shop in Corona del Mar, and Savory Spice Stop in Costa Mesa’s The O.C. Mart Mix, has been delving into her stores’ curry selection recently. The shop has 22 proprietary curry powders from a variety of culinary traditions, including Indian, Thai, and Moroccan, like the Tan-Tan blend used in this recipe. (Read my post about Savory Spice here.) 

The following recipe, from Savory Spice Shop founder Mike Johnston, is a reminder that curry doesn’t always equal hot. Savory Spice’s Tan-Tan includes anise, black cardamom, black pepper, cayenne, Ceylon and Saigon cinnamons, coriander, cumin, fenugreek, ginger, Hungarian paprika, mace, mustard powder, parsley, and turmeric, along with a touch of white sugar and salt. The chicken is suffused with subtle, aromatic flavor, and preserved lemon (a North African and Middle Eastern ingredient also available at Savory Spice), and sliced dates that add their respective salty and sweet elements.

Tan-Tan Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Preserved Lemon and Dates,

from Savory Spice Shop

Tan-Tan is one of my favorite blends in the shop. This recipe is an easy, more traditional way to make a Ras el Hanout-style Moroccan meal. (Arabic for “top of the shop,” Ras el Hanout refers to the idea of blending the very best spices a shop has to offer.)  I serve it with couscous and a simple salad, and use it all the time—in stir fry, on steamed veggies to give them some zip, on roasted potatoes, and I love it on lamb.—Laura Shute

(Makes 4 to 6 servings.)

2 tablespoons Tan-Tan seasoning

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons warm water

1 tablespoon butter

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-1/2-inch strips

¼ cup chicken stock or water

¼ cup diced red onion

15 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons preserved-lemon pulp

20 dates, sliced crosswise into circles

1 rind preserved lemon

Flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Cooked couscous

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix Tan-Tan, olive oil, and warm water to make a paste.

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add Tan-Tan paste and chicken, and stir to coat. Cook 1 minute on each side. Stir in stock or water and onions. Lay parsley leaves on top.

Cover pot, set in oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes, until chicken is tender. Discard parsley. Transfer chicken to ovenproof dish or serving platter, and keep warm

On stovetop, bring sauce to simmer. Add lemon juice, preserved-lemon pulp, and dates. Simmer just until dates are heated through. Turn off heat and stir in preserved-lemon rind. Spoon sauce over chicken; garnish with parsley leaves, and serve with couscous.

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