Braised Chicken Thighs with Pearl Onions, Green Olives, Golden Raisins & Preserved Lemon

I live in Southern California. I have two lemon trees in my yard. The inspiration for this dish came from the preserved lemons I like to make from my bumper crop every year! Braised Chicken Thighs with Pearl Onions, Green Olives, Golden Raisins & Preserved Lemon.

Braised Chicken Thighs with Pearl Onions, Green Olives, Golden Raisins & Preserved Lemon 

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 4Source Adapted from Almir DaFonseca- CIA GreystonePublished

You may substitute the preserved lemon with 6 tablespoons lemon zest.


  • 16 ounce fresh pearl onions
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs with skin (about 2 ½ pounds)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (for dredging)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus more as needed for seasoning and boiling)
  • 2 tablespoon plus ¼ cup olive oil (divided)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup castelvetrano olives (or other green olive)
  • salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 2 cup orzo or other small pasta
  • 6 clove garlic (peeled & minced)
  • 1 bunch flat leaf italian parsley (leaves only, roughly chopped)
  • ½ cup preserved lemon (lightly packed)
  • ½ cup golden raisins


Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pearl onions and blanch just until the skins have loosened, about 1 minute. Drain. When cool enough to handle, cut off the root tip and pop the onions from their skins. Reserve.

Rinse the chicken thighs under cool water and pat dry. Mix together the flour, salt, and pepper. Spread the flour mixture across a shallow dish. Lightly dredge the chicken thighs in the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Warm the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed or cast iron Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add four of the chicken thighs, and sear until a golden crust develops, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and sear until a golden crust forms on second side, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove thighs to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken thighs.

De-glaze the pan with the wine, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce the wine by half, about about 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil over high heat. 

If the olives have pits, smash them with your palm and remove the pit. Then tear the meat into 2 or 3 pieces. Adding them and the reserved pearl onions and the raisins to the pot. Bring it back to a simmer and add all the chicken thighs in as close to a single layer as possible, skin side up. Cover with the lid and slowly simmer until the meat is falling away from bones, about 1 hour.

While the chicken is cooking. Coarsely chop the preserved lemon and place it, along with parsley in a small bowl. Warm a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, and stir continuously in the dry skillet until you see some of the garlic’s oil released on the bottom of the pan and the garlic has a touch of golden color, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not allow the garlic to brown. Immediately spoon the garlic into lemon and parsley. Stir well to combine. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons olive oil to the garlic mixture to bind the ingredients together. The mixture should be moist but not wet. Add another teaspoon of olive oil, if needed. Reserve at room temperature until needed.

For the orzo: In a large saucepan bring about 8 cups of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and add the orzo, and cook until al dente about 7 minutes. Drain well. Place the orzo in a bowl and add ¼ cup olive oil and the coriander seeds. Taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in all but about 8 teaspoons of the preserved lemon garlic mixture. Saving the rest for garnish.

Place the orzo onto a large serving platter, or divide between 4 plates. Place chicken thighs on top of the orzo and spoon on the sauce with the olives and raisins all over. Garnish with reserved lemon garlic and serve warm.