A Dinner of Chicken and Couscous

This is the sort of meal I imagine you’re looking for: quick, easy, tasty. The chicken dish is from Amanda Hesser’s book; it really is one of those head-scratchers of a recipe—put all this stuff in a bowl and it ends up tasting this good? Weird. The chicken dish has lots of delicious sauce; you’re gonna want to soak that shit up. Hence the couscous. Couscous is a good staple to have in your cooking repertoire. It’s quicker to make than rice, and much more difficult to fuck up. Of course, you can go crazy with it, adding all sorts of pine nuts, raisins, celery, herbs, whatever, but I tend to like it just fine as a basic grain.

I promise that you’ll be able to find mango chutney at the supermarket.

Chicken Roasted with Lemon Juice, Sour Cream, and Mango Chutney
(Serves 2—if you don’t want leftovers, you can divide everything in half to make it with one breast.)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (or, you know, 2 chicken breasts, each cut in half)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons “Major Grey” mango chutney (or any mango chutney you can find)
1 teaspoon curry powder
Juice of 1 lemon
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 450ºF. Lay the chicken flat in a roasting dish that’s large enough to fit the pieces in one layer. In a bowl, mix together the mayo and the sour cream. Add the chutney and the curry powder and keep mixing until smooth (you may find a fork works better than a spoon for this). Add the lemon juice a little at a time and taste as you go. It should be quite tangy. Stop when it’s to your liking (honestly, I almost always juice the whole lemon—it really brightens up the dish).

2. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Place in the oven and roast until the chicken is just cooked through, about 15 minutes. After you take it out of the oven, grind fresh pepper over top.

Basic Couscous
(Again, serves 2. Feel free to divide or multiply the amounts; what’s important is you want 1.5 times the volume of liquid to couscous.)

2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup couscous
A little more than 1 cup hot water (or stock if you have it)
Salt

1. Turn on two burners, one to medium-high, one to the lowest possible setting. Put a small pot on the medium-high burner, and add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When it melts, add the couscous, stirring it so the butter coats the grains. Let the couscous toast in the butter for a minute, and season it with a couple pinches of salt.

2. Pour in the hot water, and stir to mix. When it comes to a boil, cover the pot, and move it to the burner set to low. Leave it there, covered, and don’t touch it for about eight minutes. Don’t stir, don’t peek, don’t worry. After eight minutes, all the water should be absorbed. Stir through the grains with a fork to fluff them up a bit, and then stir in the second tablespoon of butter (you can leave this out if you want to cut down on fat). Taste and adjust for salt.

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One Response to “A Dinner of Chicken and Couscous”

  1. hokiewalrus Says:

    I’m going food shopping in the next couple days, I’m definitely gonna try these first 2 dishes.

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