Monday, October 25, 2010

Hurrah For Harissa

This weekend, I saw Anne marinating chicken in harissa. I LOVE harissa - that super spicy condiment that is an essential go-along with couscous. Anne made her own harissa. It looked awesome. Lately, I’ve been using this handy harissa from a tube. It’s mighty hot and slightly smoky, which is just what I need from my harissa.

It got me to thinking about one of my favorite recipes - Moroccan Chicken Couscous.

This is basically a well-spiced AND spicy stew, which can be made vegetarian…or not. The couscous in the name of the recipe comes from what the stew is served over – freshly made couscous.

Moroccan Chicken Couscous (serves 6)

Printable recipe here

Don’t be fazed by the long list of ingredients. You’ll probably have most of these spices in your cupboard.

2 tbls. olive oil

8 pieces of chicken – thighs, legs or breast, skinned if desired

3 onions, thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

½ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. ground ginger

2 tsps. cumin

Dash of cayenne pepper

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups tomato purée

4 cups vegetable or chicken stock OR water

2 tsps. sugar

½ tsp. saffron threads

2 cups pumpkin or butternut squash pieces, peeled and cut into ¾ inch pieces

6 carrots, peeled and cut into ¾ inch piece

3 Idaho potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾ inch pieces

2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into ¾ inch slices

1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well

½ cup raisins

1 cup prunes, snipped into quarters

1 box of couscous, made according to package instructions - see note below

Heat oil over medium high heat in large heavy-bottomed sauté pan, Dutch oven or stock pot. Cook chicken until browned on both sides. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Turn heat down to medium and add onions. Cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Turn heat to low. Stir in turmeric, ground ginger, cumin, cayenne and black pepper and cook for two minutes.

Add tomato purée, stock or water, sugar and saffron. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the chicken back into the pot with the pumpkin, carrots and potatoes and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.

Stir in zucchini, chickpeas, raisins and prunes. Cover and simmer for 25 more minutes or until potatoes are cooked. Serve over cooked couscous with harissa.

For a vegetarian version, simply leave out the chicken and start the recipe by softening the onions in the olive oil.

Note: Use vegetable or chicken stock when making the couscous to serve with this. Also I often add a ladleful of the juicy stew itself to the liquid for the couscous, before I stir in the uncooked couscous. It adds a lot of extra flavor.


The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

That looks really good. I love harissa too. Now I'm in the mood for my new favorite local joint, Turkish Meze, where the harissa is quite good. I had awesome harissa in Paris too and this reminds me of my meal at the couscous restaurant.

Sue said...

I LOVE having couscous in Paris.
This recipe is put together a little differently than that. There, just like you described it, they serve the vegetable stew part separately from whatever chicken or meat or sausage you're having. Here, I cook the chicken IN with the vegetables.

Also, their harissa is more oily and saucy than the stuff I squirt out of the tube, but you can also get it in a can here, which, I guess, is a lot more authentic.