Moroccan Chicken and Couscous
Moroccan Chicken and Couscous- A budget friendly meal loaded with protein and warm spices served over fluffy couscous.
November 5, 2021 by Nicole Collins
Not all food is pretty.
What's worse is that usually it's the foods that are hideous that are the most delicious. How the heck are you supposed to sell that when we eat with our eyes first?
That's where garnishes come in, I suppose.
Well, today's meal kinda of falls into that category. The colors are a little one note, and there's not a lot of visual sparkle happening here. But let me tell you...this big ol' plate of comfort food is one of the most delicious things I make. And I make A LOT of food, so that's a pretty bold statement!
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is “let's hear it for the brown food” today.
And, let's get into today's recipe!
Today, we're making Moroccan Chicken and Couscous!
Though this may not be the most colorful meal we'll ever make, it sure is up there with the most flavorful. We're going to take some dark meat chicken and a whole bunch of warm spices, slowly braise it in a super flavorful bath, and serve the it all over some fluffy couscous. Not only is this meal totally simple and totally delicious, but it's super budget friendly too!
Let's start with the chicken. I like to use a dark meat chicken for this dish, because it's so much more flavorful and juicy. I know that there are a lot of dark meat poultry haters out there; but I promise you, it's the right move for this meal. You can also choose to use bone in or boneless chicken for this dish, but I actually prefer bone in. Bone in chicken takes a little longer to cook; so ultimately, that means more time for the chicken to hang out in our extra flavorful braising liquid. And, we want to extract every little ounce of flavor that we can out of our aromatics and spices!
To begin our braising bath, we're going to start by giving our chicken a quick sear in a dutch oven or braiser. That will help give the chicken a nice layer of caramelized flavor right from the start, and any little brown bits left behind in the pan only add bonus flavor to our liquid.
After our chicken has seared, we'll set it aside for a minute. Then, we're going to add in some chicken stock, garlic, onion, ginger, and a handful of warm and comforting spices like cumin, turmeric, paprika, and a cinnamon stick to the pot. To bump up the protein level of this dish, we're also going to add in a can of chickpeas for good measure.
Truth be told, this dish came into fruition early on in quarantine when I was making as few grocery store trips as possible and basically living out of my pantry and freezers. I thought I had more chicken on hand than I did, decided to add in chickpeas that I found in my pantry to bulk up my kinda wimpy dish a bit, and the rest is history. It's the only way to eat it now!
Once we have our liquid ready, we're going to nestle our chicken back into the pot, cover it up, and let it slowly simmer away for up to 45 minutes. I'm not going to lie to you...the smell of this chicken and chickpeas braising away is pure torture. It smells so absolutely irresistible thanks to the sweet cinnamon and ginger mixed with the savory onions and garlic. It's heavenly, but worth the wait.
When the chicken has finished cooking, we're going to cook up a quick batch of Moroccan couscous which only takes about 5 minutes. And then, it's time to eat. Now, I will note to be mindful of which type of couscous you use. You'll typically see Moroccan and Israeli couscous offered in the grocery store. Israeli couscous pearls are much larger and will therefore have a longer cooking time. Feels free to use that kind of couscous if you prefer, but follow the cooking time on the package directions instead.
When it's time to chow down, we're presented with the most comforting bowl of tender chicken, beans, and couscous. The chicken falls off the bone with zero effort. The chickpeas melt in your mouth. The couscous adds little pops of texture to each bite. And, the fragrant braising liquid acts as the perfect sauce to tie it all together. It's warm and savory and slightly sweet and slightly spicy...it's perfection. You can even garnish the dish with a little fresh parsley to brighten up your plate with some fresh green color.
I've been sitting on this recipe for a hot minute, because I wasn't sure it had the curb appeal to gain popularity. But at the end of the day, it's way too delicious to keep all to myself. So, let's hear it for the brown food!
I hope you all enjoy. And, let's eat!
Moroccan Chicken and Couscous
Serves: 4 Print
1 lb chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, skinless (with or without bone)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp + ¼ tsp salt, divided
¼ tsp pepper
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp turmeric
1 cinnamon stick
1 inch knob of ginger, peeled
2 cups chicken broth
1 can (15.5oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup Moroccan couscous
minced parsley, for garnish
Prepare the Chicken: In a dutch oven or braiser, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Season both sides of chicken with 1 tsp salt and ¼ tsp pepper. Add chicken to the pot, and sear chicken on both sides until slightly browned on the outside, about 5-6 mins per side. Remove chicken, and set aside on a plate.
To the same pot, add chicken broth, onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon stick, ginger, and chickpeas. Stir to combine, scraping the bottom of the pot to incorporate any brown bits. Add chicken back to the pot, and nestle into the cooking liquid. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30-45 mins until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Remove cinnamon stick, ginger, and garlic from the pot.
Make the Couscous: Bring 1 cup water and ¼ tsp salt to a boil in a small saucepan. Stir in couscous, and remove from heat. Cover, and allow to sit for 5 mins. After 5 mins, fluff the couscous with a fork.
To serve, divide couscous between 4 bowls. Top with chicken, chickpeas, and braising liquid. Serve!
*You can use bone in or boneless chicken for this recipe. I actually recommend bone in, because it takes a little longer to cook (closer to 45 mins) which means more time in the flavor bath. Boneless chicken will take closer to 30 mins. Use a thermometer to check the temperature for doneness.
*When buying couscous, keep in mind that Moroccan couscous and Israeli couscous are not the same. The pearls of Israeli couscous are much larger which means they have a completely different cooking time. So, make sure you get Moroccan for this recipe.