Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chicken couscous

This is a super cozy meal perfect for snowy winter days. It comes from Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table. I've always shied away from savory dishes that include cinnamon or raisins with meats — it just never seemed my thing. I decided to expand my horizons this time and give it a try—I was not disappointed. I liked that the veggies are just cut into 2-inch pieces — less work! I replaced the turnips with two medium potatoes and used a couple of yellow onions, peeled and quartered in place of the small white ones. I served it with sriracha instead of harissa — not the perfect replacement, but wholly acceptable. The flavors are very subtle and soothing. I'm not sure I understand how these flavors originate in the heat of North Africa as they seem so perfect for Michigan winters.

Chicken Couscous
Adapted from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

1 Tb grated fresh ginger or 2 1/2 tsp ground ginger
 3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp saffron threads, pinched between your fingers (optional)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 Tb unsalted butter
1 chicken, about 4 pounds, cut into 8 pieces, patted dry, at room temp
5 to 6 cups chicken broth
2 leeks, white and light green parts only, split lengthwise, cut into 2-inch pieces
8 small white onions
2 celery stalks, trimmed, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 medium turnips or potatoes, trimmed, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 cups quick-cooking couscous
2 slender zucchini, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 15-oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

For servingHarissa
Golden raisins

Mix ginger and and next five ingredients along with salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken pieces (working in batches, if necessary) and scatter spice mix over top. Cook, turning pieces so they pick up the seasoning mix, just until they loose their raw texture. They don't have to be browned.

Pour the broth in to the pot, increase the heat and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer and add leeks, onions, celery, carrots and turnips/potatoes and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Transfer 3 cups of broth to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour in the couscous and simmer for a minute. Turn off heat, cover and let stand for five minutes, or until the broth is fully absorbed.

Add the zucchini and chickpeas to the stew and cook until zucchini is tender, about 5 minutes.

Fluff the couscous with a fork and serve the stew over the couscous, with harissa and golden raisins and extra broth as necessary.

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