Chicken Tagine and Couscous

The other day I bought a whole chicken on special, and as our oven doesn’t work I decided on quartering it and cooking it on the stove. I had recently cooked with couscous I decided on a Moroccan themed dish. It turned out amazing and was really simple. First I gathered the following ingredients, for both the tagine and couscous:

Tagine:

chicken – onion – garlic – chilli – parsley – fresh coriander – lemon – carrot – fennel – chickpeas – cumin – turmeric – coriander seed – chilli powder – bay leaf

Couscous:

couscous – dukkah – dried apricots – capsicum – olives – fresh coriander – parsley

I started by preparing a marinade for the chicken by finely chopping onion, garlic, parsley, coriander and slicing a wedge of lemon.

I then combined the ingredients and chopped them even more all together. An easier option would be putting all of the ingredients into a blender or mortar and pestle, but since I lacked these items I used my method, and then added all of the spices, olive oil, salt and pepper to the paste.

I then set out in preparing the chicken.

Quartering the chicken, separating the bird into two legs with thighs attached, two wings, two breasts and the carcass. Quartering a bird is very simple and will save you a lot of money at the supermarket. To find out how, google ‘quartering a chicken’ and watch one of the many videos. I did not use the wings or the carcass in the dish, but they can be used to make soup or a stock for future cooking.I then marinated the chicken in the spice paste and left it to sit for several hours.In the evening I cut up the fennel, carrot and onion and browned the chicken pieces in some olive oil. Before I browned the chicken pieces I scraped off as much of the paste as possible, so as not to burn it. I cranked up the heat on the pan until it was smoking and then put in the chicken. When it was sufficiently browned I added the rest of the paste and some extra onion, and sauteed.When the paste and onion was cooked through I added the carrot, fennel, sliced fresh chilli, chickpeas and a couple of bay leaves. Then I added enough water to almost cover the mixture, and simmered it for about 30 minutes (or until the chicken is cooked and the vegetables are tender, meanwhile ensuring that the liquid has reduced and thickened to intensify the flavours).While the chicken was simmering I made the couscous. I started by dicing up olives, char-grilled capsicum, dried apricots, coriander and parsley. I then cooked the couscous as per the instructions on the packet and mixed all the ingredients in the pot, adding some lemon juice and a chunk of butter. To give the couscous a kick I added some dukkah (an egyptian spice blend) we got at the local markets a few weeks ago.To serve I put a pile of couscous down and topped with the chicken tagine, ensuring that there was some liquid to soak down to the couscous, and garnished the dish with some coriander.

-alex

Chicken Tagine with Couscous