Originally published June 2014. Updated February 2, 2019 by Analida
Moroccan Saffron Chicken is another Moroccan dish with an eclectic blend of spices that is easy to prepare and oh so aromatic! Like all Moroccan food, it is the blend of spices, and the slow cooking process that makes this a most delightful and flavorful dish.
Fresh, aromatic, and slow cooked
Moroccan cuisine has many influences, including Jewish, Berber and Andaloussi. Moroccan food is first and foremost based on fresh ingredients, aromatic spices and slow cooking methods which infuse the food with rich flavors.
If you do not own a tagine you can make Moroccan Saffron Chicken in a crock pot, braising pan, Dutch oven, or rectangular baking dish. ( The post contains affiliate links to some great products on Amazon. If you place an order you will pay the same price as usual on Amazon and I will get a small commission to help support my site.)
One of the best things about Moroccan Saffron Chicken…
It generates so much juice that you can save it, freeze it and use it a later date. Use it for cooking rice or a quick sauce for grilled shrimp or tilapia. Freeze the extra juice into ice cubes and enjoy it as a base for future stews. The possibilities are simply endless!!!!
I know saffron is very expensive. You only use a minimal amount. You will see what I mean once you taste it!! Also, saffron, if stored in a cool and dry environment will last you quite a while.
I think I talked about my tagine dish before in a previous post, and what a great addition to my kitchen it has been. Anyhow, the most important aspect of this dish is to cook it very slowly so all the flavors have ample time to seep in. Lately I have seen tagine dishes start to become part of mainstream cookery. Bed Bath and Beyond, and I believe Sur La Table sell them in different colors, so you can coordinate with your kitchen décor! How about that?
Here are some general use and care tips for tagine cooking.
- I have included these tips on other recipes but they are worth repeating when you invest a few dollars in a nice tagine. If you buy one, I recommend you purchase one with with a matching design since it will serve the double function of a decoration piece in your kitchen.
- If you have a gas stove, you also need to be sure to use the tagine heat difuser and not set it directly on the flame.
- If you buy a new tagine you need to cure it. Soak the tagine in water for 24 hours. Remove it from the water, dry it off and then rub olive oil by hand on the inside of the dish and lid. Place the tagine in a cold oven and set to 225 f for 2 hours and then turn off and let the oven cool completely. The heat will vaporize the water that was soaked into the clay and draw in the olive oil to season the vessel. Once it has cooled it is now cured.
- Always wash your tagine by hand and do not soak in soapy water.
- When making chicken tagine I like to buy a whole roaster chicken and cut it into pieces with a large butcher knife or sturdy kitchen shears. This is very authentic as the whole chicken is cooked with no waste. I only discard the backbone. You can easily adapt the recipe to cook in a dutch oven or slow cooker too. Just check when the chicken is fork tender and it is done.
Breaking down the roaster chicken:
Step 1: Lay the chicken on it’s back (breast side up) and insert a boning knife into joint where the wing is attached. Pull gently and cut apart the joint. Repeat for the other wing.
Step 2: Pull the leg away from the breast and cut away the skin and find the leg joint. Carefully cut downward into the leg joint to separate. Do this for both legs.
Step 3: Flip the bird over with the breast side down. Take a strong pair of kitchen shears and cut along both sides of the back bone starting at the neck and working down to the tail. Do this for each side of the backbone.
Step 4: Open up the cavity with the breast side down and carefully press down along the center of the breast bone to split the breast in 2.
Step 5: You are done cutting and you can remove any skin you don’t want in your dish. I usually remove all the breast skin for a tagine and leave skin on the legs and wings. For a really low fat-dish remove all the skin and trim the fat. This is your preference.
Tagine Preparation Step by Step:
Step 1: Gather your ingredients: a roaster chicken cut into pieces as shown above, sweet onion, ground ginger, black pepper, salt, cinnamon sticks, turmeric, saffron, butter, olive oil and fresh chopped cilantro.
Step 2: Add the onions, olive oil and butter to the tagine.
Step 3: Add the fresh chopped cilantro.
Step 4: Add the cinnamon sticks.
Step 5: Poke lots of holes into the meat with a sharp knife.
Step 6: Add the spices over the chicken.
Step 7: Evenly distribute the spices over the chicken as shown.
Step 8: Cover and cook on low until the chicken is very tender. You can baste the chicken while cooking to distribute the juice and spices over the chicken. Key tip: Feel free to add or remove some water to allow the meat to simmer in liquid but not overflow.
By the way, did I tell you that Moroccan Saffron Chicken will fill your house with a wonderful aroma?
This recipe has been adapted from allrecipes.com.
A tagine makes a beautiful addition to your kitchen for cooking and for a display piece too!
Here are some of my favorites:
If you love the exotic flavors of North African cuisine like Moroccan dishes here are some easy recipes to try at home and you won’t be disappointed. Bookmark some and come back later to try them. I’d love to hear from you!
Moroccan chicken tagine combines a nice blend of spices, tomatoes with potatoes.
Moroccan country bread or Khobz Maghribi is a simple bread that is often used as the “utensil” when eating tagine.
North African lamb meatballs combine a spicy tomato based sauce with sweet apricots and saffron.
Tabouleh is a popular salad in most Arab countries that consists of bulgur wheat with fresh parsley and onions.
Moroccan Saffron Chicken
Moroccan Saffron Chicken is a dish with an eclectic blend of spices that is easy to prepare and oh so aromatic! Like all Moroccan food, it is the blend of spices, and the slow cooking process that makes this a most delightful and flavorful dish.
- You can prepare this dish in a tagine dish, Dutch oven, or crockpot.
- In a small dish place all the spices, except for the cinnamon stick. Mix well, and set aside.
- Line the bottom of your Dutch oven/tagine or crockpot with the onions and drizzle with olive oil; add the butter, cilantro and place the cinnamon sticks on top. Place the chicken pieces on top of the onion mixture. With a sharp knife, poke the pieces of chicken in several places to allow the flavors to really seep in. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the chicken; toss and cover.
Cook on low heat for about 1 hour or until chicken is very tender. Baste with the juices during the cooking process. You can add and remove water during the cooking process but the chicken should simmer in liquid but not overflow the dish.
- If using a crock-pot or other cooking vessel, please adjust the cooking time accordingly.
- Serve with rice pilaf or couscous.