Chilly weather calls for flavorful, slow-cooked chicken legs adorned with buttery olives and bright lemon slices. This recipe borrows flavors from a Moroccan tagine (like harissa paste, which you can find in the international aisle or in a Middle Eastern grocery; we love the New York Shuk brand) and yields a similar, slightly stewy result — perfect to serve over fluffy couscous. Try this Moroccan-inspired braised chicken recipe for a cozy night in.
What is the Difference Between Braising and Stewing?
Braising and stewing are both simple cooking techniques that yield flavorful results. There are a few key differences. Braising typically refers to cooking large cuts of meat or vegetables, partially submerged in liquid, until they are tender. Stewing uses smaller cuts of meat or vegetables, and completely submerges them in liquid. Browning is also a key factor; braised meats and vegetables are always browned before they are slowly cooked. Browning is not a requirement of stewing.
How to Make Moroccan Braised Chicken with Couscous
Time: 75 – 80 minutes
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs (thigh and drumstick together)
2 shallots, cut into ½-inch wedges
1 tbsp unsalted butter
6 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup couscous
2 tbsp currants
½ cup white wine
1 ½ cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 lemon, thinly sliced crosswise, seeds removed
2 tbsp harissa paste
½ cup castelvatrano olives, smashed and pitted
2 tbsp sliced almonds
1 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Brown the chicken:
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat the butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high until melted and hot. Add the chicken. Cook 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pan, transfer to a plate.
2. Cook the vegetables:
To the pot of reserved fond, add the shallots; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 8 to 9 minutes, or until softened and caramelized. Add the garlic; cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add the harissa paste; cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until coated and combined.
3. Start the braise:
Add the wine; cook, stirring constantly to scrape up any fond, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until combined. Add the stock, browned chicken (skin-side up), olives, and lemon slices. Cover the pot and cook 29 to 31 minutes.
4. Finish the braise:
Remove the lid. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, or until the liquid is slightly reduced. Stir in the tomatoes. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and the chicken is cooked through (an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken thigh should register 165ºF).
5. Cook the couscous:
While the chicken cooks, in a medium pot, combine the couscous and 1 cup of chicken stock; season with salt and pepper. Heat to boiling on high. Once boiling, cover and remove from heat. Let stand 6 to 8 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed and the couscous is tender. Fluff the cooked couscous with a fork; season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Finish the couscous & serve your dish:
To the pot of cooked couscous, stir in the currants, almonds, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve the finished couscous with the cooked chicken, vegetables, and sauce. Garnish with the parsley. Enjoy!