In the Kitchen with Jan Buhrman

Cooking up Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon.


Self-trained Chef Jan Buhrman has been cooking her entire life. “I was a teaching librarian at O.B. School,” Buhrman said. “After my son was born, I wasn’t able to go back part-time, so I started making soups, salsas, and sauces from leftover vegetables I got at the Farmers Market.” In 1987, Buhrman opened her own catering business. She also secured a vendor stand at the Farmers Market, which she ran for years. “In 2022 I sold my catering business, and 2021 was the last market I did,” she said.

Buhrman hasn’t retired from the food business, however. As a food advocate and environmentalist, she’s passionate about understanding where our food comes from. Buhrman strives to enhance people’s understanding of food through farm tours, cooking classes, and nutrition workshops.

“I know scientifically and in my gut that not knowing where our food comes from has a direct impact on our health, and on the health of our planet,” she said. “If you pay attention to where your food comes from, there is a natural progression to paying attention to everything.”

Buhrman uses only organic California lemons, and she preserves several to give them a longer shelf life. “Not many people know this, but lemons have a season. It starts waning in March or April,” she explained. “You can keep preserved lemons in the pantry for up to 30 days.”

I recently went to Buhrman’s house to watch and learn as she made Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon. We were joined by the family dog, Lulu, and honorary family member Taryn Pasqualoni, who was kind enough to take pictures and assist Buhrman in between shooting.

Buhrman had all the ingredients out and ready to go. There was a cutting board filled with cauliflower, cabbage, and carrots waiting to be drizzled with olive oil, salt, and spices, and placed into the oven to roast: “I try to cut the vegetables about the same size so they’ll cook evenly. Then I spread them out on a parchment-lined pan in a single layer.”

Next, Buhrman added extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice in with ras el hanout spices, and massaged it onto the chicken. After coating the chicken, Buhrman browned the chicken thighs, then transferred them into a baking dish, topped them with tomatoes, preserved lemon slices, and olives. Into the oven they went.

For the rice, Buhrman added a cinnamon stick for a little flavor, some colorful peppercorns for fun, a bay leaf, salt, and two pinches of saffron. Next up: the dressing for the vegetables. “Tahini is key,” Buhrman explained. “I put it in a blender — and here’s another place where my preserved lemons come in handy — pour a little of the preserved lemon juice in with the tahini, add a dash of salt, a little water, and blend.”

While we waited for the dish to cook, I asked Buhrman what advice she’d give to someone who is intimidated by cooking. “I think you have to start with basic techniques. Start with learning how to cook chicken. Then begin playing around with adding different spices to it,” she said. “I’ve taught classes on rice, and I suggest people start with one kind of rice before moving onto another. Basmati is different from arborio, and arborio is different from sticky rice. Cooking is easy if you just learn the foundations.”

Before I knew it, it was time to eat. Buhrman pulled the chicken and vegetables out of the oven, and the smell was outstanding. The chicken was golden brown, the rice smelled like what I imagine heaven might smell like, and the vegetables were roasted to perfection. Pasqualoni grabbed three plates, silverware, and napkins, and we sat down at the dining table together. Sometimes sharing a meal with people we don’t know can feel uncomfortable. Yet there is something about sharing a delicious meal together that seems to put us at ease and create connection. Plus, eating tasty food just makes us plain old happy.

Luckily for the Island community, Jan’s recipes are available on her website. She also offers cooking classes, workshops, and retreats, and is writing a book about why knowing where our food comes from is so important. Sounds amazing, and I’m pretty excited to try my hand at Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon.

To learn more about Jan Buhrman, visit her website at Email or call 508-360-4491. 

Moroccan Chicken Thighs with Preserved Lemon

Moroccan chicken thighs with preserved, sheet pan vegetables with tahini, and saffron rice. This recipe calls for ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice blend. The recipe for the blend is included, in case you do not have a blend labeled “ras el hanout” in your spice drawer. Note: This recipe is a little bit spicy. If you like it milder, use less spice. Serves 4-6.

2 cloves garlic, minced
½ shallot, minced
2-in. piece of ginger, grated
4 heaping tsp. ras el hanout* (alternatively: 1 tsp. coriander, 1 tsp. turmeric, 1 tsp. allspice, 1 tsp. cinnamon, or any combination of these)
1 tsp. smoky paprika
2 pinches saffron threads
1 tsp. turmeric
3 to 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole preserved lemon, chopped fine, plus a couple of tablespoons of juice
6 to 8 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
red or yellow onions, sliced
1 cup green, or green and black, olives, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1 can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 handful of chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish

Mix garlic, shallot, ginger, ras el hanout (or spices), paprika, saffron, and turmeric together with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Rub the mixture all through the thighs, cover, and refrigerate to marinate 2 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat the rest of the olive oil in a heavy skillet. Add the chicken, and brown on all sides. Remove to a baking dish that allows for room around the chicken for the onions, olives, and preserved lemon. Add the chopped onions and the preserved lemon. Sprinkle the chicken with olives, then add the chicken stock and diced tomatoes. Sprinkle with cinnamon, and roast uncovered in the oven for 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, scatter parsley or cilantro on top, and serve.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the dressing for the vegetables.

Sheet Pan Carrots, Cabbage, and Cauliflower with Tahini

2 carrots, sliced thin on a long diagonal
½ or whole head cauliflower, cut into small wedges on the diagonal
½ small cabbage cut into 6 to 8 wedges, about 1 in. thick each

Dressing for vegetables

4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. cumin
4 Tbsp. tahini
4 Tbsp. juice from preserved lemons (If you do not have preserved lemons, substitute the juice and zest from one whole lemon.)
Parchment paper (for easy cleanup, but not essential)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Make the dressing for the vegetables by blending the olive oil, cumin, tahini, and lemon juice.

Toss the carrots and cauliflower with half the dressing. Make sure the vegetables are well coated, and spread them out on half of a sheet pan, single layer. On the other half, lay out the cabbage. Drizzle the remaining sauce over the cabbage. Bake for about 40 minutes.


Long grains include jasmine, basmati, and Texmati rice. The ratio of water or stock to long-grain rice is about 1¼ cup liquid to 1 cup rice. 2¾ cups water or stock; saffron rice uses chicken stock and 1½ cups jasmine rice and 1 tsp. salt.

In a saucepan, bring the water or stock to a boil. Add the rice and the salt. Cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. You may need to add a bit more water –– some rice is drier than others. Remove the covered saucepan from the heat and let the rice absorb the last of the water.

Add any flavors you’d like. For saffron rice, combine the following:

1 Tbsp. butter or olive oil
½ cup onion, diced
1 tsp. sea salt
2 pinches saffron
1 pinch cinnamon
1 bay leaf

Sauté the onions in the butter or oil until clear, then add the spices. Pour over the rice and mix well.

* Ras el hanout ingredients

2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground cumin seeds