Chicken and Wine Couscous

This is a relatively quick, filling, and flexible meal that I have developed from a Mark Bittman (pbuh) recipe. Don’t have chicken? Use beef or lamb (which was what the original called for.) Don’t have saffron, or can’t tell the difference if it’s included or not? That’s cool too, just skip it.

Chicken and Wine Couscous

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1.5-2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1‐ to 2‐inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (5-6 cloves, at least)
2 3‐inch cinnamon sticks or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups red box wine, or a mixture of chicken stock and red box wine
.5 cup raisins (optional)
Large pinch saffron (optional)
1 cup couscous, regular or pearled
¼ cup chopped fresh mint leaves or 1 tablespoon dried mint (optional)

If you’re using saffron, bloom it in a few ounces of wine or water as you prepare the other ingredients. If you’re using raisins, soak them in a half-cup of wine at the same time, and have more wine on hand if needed to ensure there’s enough braising liquid.

Heat the oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium‐high heat. When hot, add the chicken, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the onion, and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic, cinnamon, coriander, and cumin and cook for another minute, stirring constantly.

Pour in the wine (or wine/stock mixture if that’s what you’re doing), and add the raisins and the saffron if you’re using them, along with their soaking liquid. Add another sprinkle of salt, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low so it bubbles steadily but not violently; cook, stirring once or twice, until the meat is tender, about 20-30 minutes. (At this point, you may refrigerate the meat mixture for a day or two; reheat gently before proceeding.)

Stir in the mint (if you’re using it) and couscous. If you’re using regular couscous, cover the pan and turn off the heat; let sit for 5 to 7 minutes without disturbing. If you’re using pearled couscous, keep heat on low and stir regularly as the couscous cooks, about 5-7 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, then serve hot, with torn fresh mint on top if you have any.

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