Sun 22 Apr 2012
My Family Table, A Passionate Plea for Home Cooking by Chef John Besh has received several very positive reviews, so I picked up a copy. The first recipe I made from it is this Couscous with Spicy Chicken, and it was very good, especially the couscous. This recipe calls for cooked chicken, so it is a good way to use up leftovers or you can cook the chicken ahead of time. The chicken is tossed in a spice blend and reheated. The couscous includes cabbage, carrots, scallions and turmeric.
Avoiding Additives and Preservatives
Check your dry spices to make sure they don’t contain colour or anti-caking chemicals. If you don’t have homemade stock on hand (and who does, really?) use an all-natural stock such as Imagine brand. Make sure the butter does not contain colour—I use Gay Lea Unsalted Butter, which has a single ingredient: cream. It is easy to make harissa from scratch—the recipe is below.
For the spice blend and chicken
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp cinnamon
Freshly ground black pepper
1 roast chicken, cooked and cut into pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
For the couscous
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ head cabbage, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, sliced
2 cups couscous
1 tsp turmeric
2 cups chicken broth
1 tbsp butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Leaves from 2 sprigs of fresh mint, chopped
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 chipotle in adobo, minced, plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground caraway
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. For the spice blend, toast the ginger, fennel, coriander, red pepper and cinnamon in a small skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Besh urges you to stop and smell the toasting spices. Put the spices in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and process to a fine powder.
Salt and pepper the chicken and toss in with the olive oil and spice blend in a large bowl. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until it is hot. Remember, you are just reheating the chicken; it should be already cooked through.
For the couscous, in a medium saucepan combine the oil, cabbage, carrots, green onions and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, for 3-5 minutes until soft. Add the couscous with the turmeric and a pinch of salt. Stir to make sure all the grains are coated with oil, then add the broth.
Bring to a simmer, remove from the heat, and cover. Let stand until the couscous is tender and the water is absorbed, 5-7 minutes. Fluff with a fork to make sure there are no lumps, then add the butter and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and add the mint.
Mound the couscous in a bowl and top with the spiced chicken. Serve with harissa and drizzles of olive oil. Serves 4-6.
From My Family Table by John Besh