Deconstructed Moroccan Chicken Tagine

Deconstructed Paleo Moroccan Chicken Tagine via Worthy Pause

I will tell you exactly how this chicken tagine hack happened. Last winter I saw a recipe in this cookbook for chicken with preserved lemon and capers and I was like, "Hey, that looks good. I should make that." And then I saw that Trader Joe's started selling preserved lemon, so I bought some and then promptly did nothing with it for months.

And then I forgot about the original book recipe (I only just remembered it one paragraph ago), and I made this instead.

If you're a tagine purist, I'm sorry — I did not use an actual tagine, which is kind of like a hat that is also Dutch oven (see a very cute one here). It's basically a North African clay slow-cooker that you use on the stovetop.

Nor is this dish really a tagine in the traditional sense, because it's not a stew.

What it is, though, is pretty tasty. And crispy Berber-style chicken thighs are a little more appetizing than stew in the middle of summer.

I served it (to myself) with apricot cauliflower rice (just added cilantro and chopped, dried apricots to my favorite roasted cauliflower rice recipe). I also scooped a bit of dill-yogurt and toum onto the plate to eat with cucumbers.

Deconstructed Paleo Moroccan Chicken Tagine via Worthy Pause


Paleo, Whole30, Gluten-free; adapted from Tyler Florence


  • 2 lbs. skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (at least four thighs — more if they are small)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 T ghee or olive oil
  • 1 big bunch of cilantro, chopped (divided in two)
  • 1 preserved lemon, rinsed (with the flesh removed) and then cut into strips
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup green olives
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock


  1. First, prep the marinade for the chicken. Mix the cumin, black pepper, paprika, red pepper, ginger and cinnamon together. Then stir in the ghee or olive oil. Add the bay leaves and half of the cilantro. Rub marinade on the chicken (don't forget to get under the skin) and let it hang out in a bowl in the fridge for 6 hours or up to a day.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a lined baking pan, bake the chicken skin-side up for about 45 minutes or until the internal temp is 165.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, add the onions to a big pot or pan on medium high heat. Throw the leftover marinade (whatever was left in the bowl — if it's not much other than bay leaves, just sprinkle in a little extra cumin/paprika/etc. into the pan). Cook the onions until just browning (about 3-5 minutes).
  4. Add the preserved lemon, olives, cilantro and chicken stock to the pan and simmer until the chicken is done. The skin should be nice and crispy.
  5. When the chicken is ready, add the juices from the bottom of the baking pan to the pot with the gravy. Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes and then eat it with the tagine gravy on top or on the side. 


  • Serve with Apricot Cauliflower Couscous, as I did. Or something else!
  • You can add a pinch of saffron to the marinade if you have it on hand and want to get fancy.
  • If you wanted to go the traditional route of tagine, all you would do is brown the chicken first and then finish it with all the gravy/stew ingredients in a Dutch oven or tagine on the stovetop for about 30-40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. But then you don't get crispy skin, which is delightful.
Deconstructed Paleo Moroccan Chicken Tagine via Worthy Pause
Deconstructed Paleo Moroccan Chicken Tagine via Worthy Pause

Do you have strong feelings about tagine or my lack of tagine? Let's hear it.