Chicken Tajine with Blue Hubbard, lemon & olives

Just in time for that week-end cooking spree because you wisely (!) wish to capitalize on squash season, here’s the 3rd recipe excerpted from the new Québec cookbook Sous le charme des courges et des citrouilles (“Charmed by squash and pumpkin”) by Chatelaine food writer Louise Gagnon.

I reviewed it here, in French only, in case you want to learn more about it.

This time, I went foreign cuisine, Middle-Eastern tajines being one of my favourite braises in the world. I love the subtle, mellow spices of tajines often combined to the sweetness of dried fruit, the zing of preserved lemons and the bite of olives. This Chicken Tajine met my expectations and would probably have been even more seductive served in an actual tajine dish. Fear not, this shall be the winter of our content as I splurge on clay pots, I’m only waiting for Le Creuset to open its first Montreal outlet in November. Mind you, in a recent short Twitter exchange, Food Network chef Laura Calder also recommended Staub Dutch ovens to me. Questions, questions…

Without further ado (okay, sue me, with the cold weather fast approaching, I’m in quite the dramatic Shakespearian mood), here’s the last installment in my squash cooking series. BTW, you definitely want to try the previous two recipes, the Butternut Squash Lasagna and the Butternut Mac’n Cheese, with family-friendly greatness cooked in.


Because you may not be familiar with all the ingredients, here are a few pointers to get you started: If you’re wondering what Blue Hubbard looks like, there it is posing, on the right, with switch-hitting Jumbo Pink Banana. Both have a reputation for being among the tastiest stars of the squash lineup. If you don’t have a Blue Hubbard handy, multiple switch hitters can do the trick, like Delicata, Small Sugar, Ambercup, Buttercup, Pink Jumbo Banana or Butternut squash. See, no excuse.

The recipe also calls for ras-el-hanout. A mix of 20 to 100 spices including cardamome, clove, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, turmeric and even dried rosebuds, ras-el-hanout recipe blends are passed down from one generation to the next. I guess I could try my hand at it but the ras-el-hanout from Épices de cru is celebrated by all and is available for purchase online. I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

Final note: Dicing hard-skinned squash like Hubbards can be daunting. Author Louise Gagnon recommends simply dropping that sucker on the floor, preferably concrete, to break it into more manageable pieces. Plus, it’s a great way to release stress, I can vouch.

Excerpted from:


  • 1. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). In a heavy-bottomed casserole or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-low heat and stir in onions 3-4 minutes. Add cumin, ras-el-hanout and garlic, cooking 30 seconds. Add chicken, ginger, preserved lemon, saffron, salt and pepper. Pour in chicken broth, which should almost cover all the meat. Don’t drown it out or you will dilute the broth.
  • 2. Cover and cook in oven 1 hour. Add squash and olives, then continue cooking covered for 20-25 minutes or until squash is tender.
  • 3. Serve on a bed of couscous, garnished with cilantro.