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Monday, January 05, 2009

Food: Chicken in Orange Juice with Couscous

Time for some Middle Eastern food because it's good, warming, fragrant, spicy, and very tasty, all of which we need this winter as we cleanse the remnants of evil right out of our house and planet.

This recipe is utterly delicious. It's Lebanese, I believe, but I tweaked it quite a bit for health and to reduce the cloying sweetness of the original recipe.

2 small (or 1 large) yellow onion (approx. 12 oz)
3 small cloves garlic
2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup golden raisins
6 oranges
1/2 cup dried apricots
2 tsp Baharat *
3 allspice berries
Black pepper and salt to taste
1 chicken cut in 12-16 pieces
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp. pomegranate molasses or unsweetened pomegranate juice

Chop the onions. Mince the garlic fine. Halve the apricots. Zest and juice the oranges. Pour enough of the orange juice over the raisins to cover and set aside for about 20 minutes. Thinly slice the zest from 1/2 an orange. Toast the allspice berries in a skillet till lightly browned. When cool, grind to a powder.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining orange juice with the fish sauce, pomegranate molasses or juice, baharat. Add chickpeas and apricots and let stand while you prepare the remaining ingredients.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Toss with salt, pepper, garlic, allspice powder, and paprika. Heat the oil and fry the chicken in batches, ~3 minutes each side. Drain on paper towels. Add onion to the oil (not to exceed 2 Tbsp, so pour off any extra fat), and cook over medium heat, stirring gently, till golden. Return chicken to the pan with all remaining ingredients and simmer at medium heat until the chicken is cooked through and very moist. If the sauce is thin, remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside while you cook down the sauce. Re-add the chicken, just heat through, and serve with 7-vegetable Couscous. Recipe follows.

Cook's Notes:
  • You need roughly 6 heavy juicy oranges for 1.5 cups of juice.
  • You can zest the oranges with a zester or a vegetable peeler.
  • If you use a vegetable peeler, be careful to only remove the orange skin, not any of the white, fibrous part underneath. The white part is extremely bitter.
  • Zest may be wrapped in clean Saranwrap and stored in the freezer.
  • Although you can use canned chickpeas, dried chickpeas are much more nutritious. Soak them overnight and cook at a very low heat without salt for about 2 hours.
  • * Baharat is available from Middle-Eastern grocery stores or online from Zamouri Spices.

7-Vegetable Couscous

3 Tbsp olive oil
2 large leeks
4 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup raisins
1-2 cups peeled butternut squash
1 rutabaga or turnip
1 bulb fennel
2-3 carrots
1-2 cups peeled plum tomatoes
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup cilantro
1.5 cups couscous (10 oz)
2.5 cups chicken stock
1 tsp ground ginger
1-3 tsp cayenne pepper
2-3 tsp Seven Spice Mix *
3 dried red chillies
1 Tbsp rose petals *

Cut off the green part of the leeks and soak the rest to remove any dirt. Rinse and mince fine. Chop garlic. Thaw frozen peas. Cube the remaining vegetables in 1/2" chunks. Seed and dice the tomatoes, and coarsely chop the cilantro. Soak the raisins in a little sherry or other flavourful liquid. Snip the tops off the dried chillies and remove the seeds if you don't like too much heat. Grind rose petals to a fine powder in a coffee grinder.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over low heat. When hot (but not smoking), add leeks and garlic. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stiring occasionally. The leeks should be very tender, but not browned. Add the stock, all the veges (except tomatoes, peas, and cilantro), salt, pepper, dried chillies, and bring to a boil uncovered over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer about 8 minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add tomatoes, peas, cilantro, remaining spices, ground rose petals, and couscous, remove from heat and let stand about 10 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed. Fluff with a fork and serve.

Cook's notes:
  • Rose petals and 7-Spice Mix are available from Zamouri's spices, see previous recipe.
  • In summer, substitute summer squashes and vegetables for the winter veges in this recipe.
  • You can use canned tomatoes.
  • Grind spices in a coffee-grinder that you reserve for spices only. The mixture of coffee oils and spice oils could have unpleasant consequences.
  • I find that I sometimes need to add more liquid than called for in this recipe. If you find the couscous a little dry and sticky add BOILING chicken stock or water ONLY in small amounts. Do not add cold liquid.
  • Use Moghrabieh (Lebanese couscous) for best results. It is larger and irregular. If you cannot find Moghrabieh, use Israeli couscous.
  • Use Dundicut or Tientsin dried red chillies for the best results. Both available at Penzey's.

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At 7:14 AM, Blogger Lizzy said...

Oh, your recipes (and beautiful pictures) are making me SO hungry... But what is fish sauce, may I ask? THANK YOU FOR THE REMNANTS OF EVIL CLEANSING RECIPES!! Too perfect... The captcha is "chant" - are they allowed to use real words???

At 10:03 AM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

Fish sauce is commonly used throughout Southeast Asia along with various fish and prawn pastes to flavour food. It eliminates the need for additional salt. Because it's fermented, it adds a layer of depth and complexity to the recipe. You can substitute Worcestershire sauce. The actual ingredient is fermented barley, but I couldn't find that anywhere, so I substituted fish sauce. I have to admit that the end result was simply delicious.


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