(Amazing) Moroccan Couscous

Serves: 4

Couscous is not something I have ever paid too much attention to when cooking a tagine or whatever it might be.

(The exception being Jamie Oliver’s Couscous Stuffed Roast Chicken where the couscous is the star of the show.)

My usual approach – couscous, olive oil, hot chicken stock, currants and maybe some slivered almonds – has been unceremoniously described by Nat – at its worst – as “glug”.

A criticism I’ve accepted because as I said, I’ve never paid too much attention to it: especially when a cracker of a tagine is ladled on-top.

This recipe affirmed what I have always known about couscous and that is that it can be so wonderful – even on its own – when shown the time. It can be much more than just a ho-hum base to a great tagine and it can certainly be much more than just glug.

To point, this couscous blew Nat away and she agreed it was tremendous.

In fact, I recall her saying something to the effect that it was the best couscous she had ever had.

Make the effort and do this. It is bloody amazing, light and wonderful tasting…. and turn-around your detractors in their steps.

Ingredients

450ml chicken stock
200gm couscous
½ red onion, finely diced
½ bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 long red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
60gm dried currants
Handful whole almonds, roasted
80gm butter, diced
2 egg yolks, beaten
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Method

  1. Over a high heat, in a medium-sized pot, bring the stock to a boil.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and season well.
  3. When the stock is boiling, pour it over the couscous mixture, give it a stir and cover with glad wrap. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Uncover and gently run a fork through the couscous to fluff it up. Check your seasoning and serve.

Jamie Oliver’s Couscous Stuffed Roast Chicken

 

Serves: 4

This roast chicken is on a whole other level and a quick read through the ingredients will tell you why.

It looks and tastes dramatic. Real Jamie sort of stuff. The filling forms such a fabulous base for the chicken – so much so that you almost don’t need a side.

Though an orange, olive and onion salad couldn’t hurt!

Enjoy as much as I did.

Ingredients

1 whole chicken
1 cup couscous
Zest and juice of an orange
Zest and juice of a lemon, reserving the lemon halves
2 handfuls of pistachios, or any nut,  roughly chopped
2 handfuls of dried blueberries, or any dried fruit
1 large handful of fresh mint and parsley, plus a little extra to throw on top, roughly chopped
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more to coat chicken
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 cardamon seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Put the couscous, orange and lemon zest and juice, dried fruit, nuts and fresh herbs in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and half a cup of warm water and mix everything together.
  3. With a mortar and pestle or spice blender, pound all the spices with the salt until you have a powder.
  4. Stuff the bird with the couscous mixture. Block the cavity with lemon halves that you have squeezed the juice from. This will keep the couscous from falling out of the chicken.
  5. Rub the chicken with a little olive oil and all of the spice mixture. Throw on the rest of the fresh herb mixture.
  6. Roast the chicken for an hour or so until a thermometer reads 70c. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.

Lamb marinated in yoghurt

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Lamb sans glug.

Serves: 4

Super simple Matt Moran recipe I pulled from The Australian Financial Review in 2008! Gives you some indication of the backlog.

I was introduced to ras el hanout about 10 years back and it is one of the most versatile spice mixes you can get. Ras el hanout means ‘house spice’ and in Northern Africa and parts of the Middle East, every spice shop competes with their own version of it.

Some interpretations have up to 30 spices included in it.

You won’t find it at Coles though Herbies and David Jones (Food Hall) have it.

I haven’t made it myself though I have included Matt Moran’s take on the spice and once I am out of my current supply, I will give it a go.

I served the lamb with cous cous (which according to Natalie I cannot master and so she refers to it as ‘glug’) with chicken stock, almonds, currents and coriander and at Nat’s highly successful recommendation, roasted red onion pieces and baby carrots, sautéed in the pan with honey.

You’re welcome!

Ingredients

600gm lamb backstrap
100gm natural (fat-free) yoghurt
1 tsp ras el hanout
Bunch of mint, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp preserved lemons thinly sliced

Ras el hanout

2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp table salt
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp ground fennel seeds
3 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cloves

Method

  1. For the ras el hanout, combine all the ingredients well and store in an airtight container.
  2. To prepare the lamb, cut the lamb into 3cm pieces. In a bowl, mix the yoghurt and ras el hanout with half the mint. Place the lamb in the bowl and coast with the marinade. Marinate overnight.
  3. To prepare the skewers, soak some bamboo skewers in water for an hour (to prevent burning).
  4. Pre-heat the grill to hot. Place four to five pieces of lamb on each skewer and season with a little salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.
  5. Grill the skewers for a minute on each side.
  6. Serve the lamb and scatter over the preserved lemon and remaining mint.
  7. Glug.

Moroccan fish tagine with almond couscous

Serves: 4 – 6

As much as anyone loves a three hour slow-braise tagine, there isn’t time on Tuesday night for such extravagance.

Which is why we have some fabulous tagines like this one.

To reduce the calories even further, skip the butter and add a little chicken stock to your cous cous.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
250gm cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2/3 cup fish stock
½ preserved lemon, flesh discarded and rind sliced finely
16 pitted Kalamata olives
4 x 180gm skinless, deboned gemfish (or blue eye cod) fillets
Sea salt
Black pepper

Cous cous and to serve

2 cups couscous
30gm butter
1/3 cup flaked almonds, toasted

Handful coriander leaves

Method

  1. Heat oil in tagine (or saucepan) over medium heat. Gently fry onions for 5 minutes until beginning to soften. Add garlic and spices and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  2. Stir through tomatoes, stock, lemon rind and olives. Remove half of mixture and place in a bowl.
  3. Season fish with salt and pepper and lay it over the mixture still in the tagine. Top with remaining mixture from bowl. Cover with lid and reduce mixture to medium-low and cook for 12 minutes until fish is just translucent. Scatter coriander leaves on top.
  4. Meanwhile, boil kettle. Pour couscous into large mixing bowl and top with knob of butter. Seasons with salt and pepper. Pour two cups of boiling water over couscous and cover bowl tightly with cling wrap. Allow to stand for 3 minutes.
  5. Fold almonds through couscous and serve the tagine on the couscous with the coriander.

Moroccan meatball tagine with lemon and olives

Serves: 4

For a low carb dinner, this is a fabulous recipe; flavoursome, exotic and filling.

I chose to type it up because it is a mince recipe (my favourite), it is healthy (less than 400 calories per serve) and frankly, it tastes like something you’d get at a Moroccan restaurant, let alone being a dish you’d prepare to keep trim or get trim.

The original recipe asked for lamb mince and lamb stock, though I changed this to lean pork mince and chicken stock respectively. It would be fine with turkey mince as well.

I also steamed and sliced in two zucchini at the end of the cooking, to add some greenery and fill out the recipe.

And of course cous cous with chicken stock and currants.

Eat well, feel good!

Ingredients

3 onions, peeled, roughly chopped
500gm minced pork (or lamb, beef, chicken, turkey)
Zest and juice of one lemon, then quartered
1 tsp cumin
1tsp cinnamon
Pinch cayenne pepper
Small bunch flat0leaf parsley, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Pinch saffron strands
205ml chicken stock (or lamb if doing lamb)
1 tbsp tomato paste
100gm pitted black Kalamata olives
Small bunch coriander, chopped
Cous cous (with chicken stock, currants and toasted, slivered almonds) or fresh, crusty bread
2 zucchinis, steamed and sliced and added at the end
Method

  1. Put the onions in a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Put the mince, lemon zest, spices, parsley and half the onions in a large bowl and season; combine. Using your hands, shape into walnut-sized balls.
  2. Heat the oil in a tagine (or large pan/heavy pot) and add the remaining onions, ginger, chilli and saffron. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add the lemon juice, stock, tomato paste and olives and bring to the boil. Add the meatballs one at a time, reduce the heat and cover, cooking for 20 minutes; turn the meatballs a few times during this time.
  3. Remove the lid and add the coriander and lemon wedges, tucking them in between the meatballs. Cook uncovered for another 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly. Add any pre-cooked/steamed vegetables, carefully combine and serve with cous cous or crusty bread.

Neil Perry’s beef tagine with fried cauliflower

Neil Perry’s beef tagine with fried cauliflower

Serves 4

Holy shit, this is a great dish. The beef is so hot and intense, it is also a revelation and much more than your bog standard apricot and beef tagine in stock. It should surprise nobody that for me, Neil Perry is one of the best chefs around.

I thought about adding apricots to the dish to give it sweetness, though the raisins in the cous cous were more than ample. (I should have slightly adapted this recipe to be as I made it.)

Sprinkle with some toasted, slivered almonds and a handfuls of coriander and this is one of those meals where few words will be said.

Ingredients

1.2kg beef chuck, cut into 2.5cm dice
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 x 400g tin peeled, chopped tomatoes
1 small cauliflower, broken into florets
½⁄ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Good handful of tast
Chopped coriander

Chermoula

1 medium Spanish onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
Sea salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp ras-el-hanout
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp coriander leaves
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley
1 tsp crushed dried chillies
Juice of 1 lemon

Cous Cous

Cous Cous
Chicken Stock
Raisins

Method

  1. To make the chermoula, puree all the ingredients together in a food processor until relatively smooth.
  2. Marinate the diced beef in the chermoula paste for one hour.
  3. Heat three tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil in a saucepan big enough to fit all the beef. When just smoking, add the beef (shaking off as much marinade as you can, though reserving the marinade) and quickly saute to colour and seal well on all sides.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes and a cup of water to the bowl the beef was previously marinating in, mix well and add to the saucepan. Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook gently for about two to two-and-a-half hours or until beef is tender.
  5. Toast the almonds and prepare the cous cous with the stock and the raisins.
  6. When the beef is nearly ready, bring a pot of salted water to the boil, add the cauliflower florets and cook for one minute. Drain the cauliflower well, allow to dry then shallow-fry the cauliflower in a small saucepan with the remaining olive oil.
  7. To serve, spoon the cous cous into bowls, ladle the beef on-top, sprinkle with the browned cauliflower, give a good grind of pepper and sprinkle with the coriander and almonds.