quick moroccan chicken + couscous
What do you do when it's May but still too cold to barbecue? Bathe chicken thighs in a zesty Moroccan-inspired tomato sauce, & tuck them into a fluffy bed of raisin-studded couscous for a quick and healthy still-waiting-for-spring family dinner.
Thank you to Sarah Huggins of (Cooking for) Kiwi and Bean for another healthy, family-friendly recipe to please your tiny little bosses and your inner gourmand. Sarah is a Belly Bootcamper, mommy of two, and lawyer by day, who whips up amazing but do-able meals for her family of four.
My dad once famously declared “summer never comes when summer comes” to describe the rainy Vancouver summers that I grew up with. And this has certainly been a spring that never came when spring came. If you know what I mean.
With the weather feeling more like November than May, I’ve officially extended the braising, stewing, roasting season for at least a couple more weeks, but spiced things up for “spring” with this quick and easy Moroccan-inspired chicken dish. The recipe uses chicken thighs, which are infinitely tastier than chicken breasts, packed with iron, and more forgiving too: you can cook the heck out of thighs without turning them into rubber. The thighs are seared to lock in their juices and enhance their flavour, then bathed in a spice-flecked tomatoey sauce. I like to serve them with couscous, partly for the Moroccan-ness of it all, but mostly because couscous goes from dry to dinner-table-ready in minutes. Perfect for a busy weeknight.
You could also opt for quinoa to up your total protein intake and turn this meal into a muscle-building, baby-building powerhouse. Add a little steamed broccoli or a tossed salad and you’ve got a colourful, healthful still-waiting-for-spring supper.
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quick moroccan chicken thighs over couscous
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
1 tbsp honey
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water
1. Cut chicken thighs in half, pat them dry with a paper towel and sprinkle them generously with salt and ground pepper. 2. Heat the cooking oil in the bottom of a heavy bottom pot (I used my Le Creuset dutch oven) set over medium-high heat. 3. When oil is shimmering, add chicken thighs. Cook until they start to get brown and crispy, then flip them and do the same to the other side. 4. Lower the heat to medium-low and add garlic, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon stick and cayenne (if using). Stir it all around until you can smell the spices. 5. Turn heat back up to medium-high and add the tomatoes and their juices, crushing each tomato between your fingers as you add it to the pot. 6. Drizzle the honey over top and bring it to a boil. 7. When liquid is boiling, turn heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is reduced, about 20-30 minutes. If you'd like to reduce your sauce even further, remove the chicken and turn sauce to high heat for a few minutes to let some liquid boil off. 8. Season with salt to taste (it will depend on how salty your tomatoes are). 9 . While chicken is cooking, put couscous, raisins, butter and salt in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Put a lid on the bowl and leave it for a few minutes, until the couscous has absorbed all the water. 10. Fluff couscous with a fork, and serve chicken and sauce over couscous. Garnish with cilantro.