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Archive for September 29th, 2010

The subtle Middle Eastern flavors infuse the chicken as it roasts, leaving not only a flavorful chicken, but also a very moist one. The original recipe calls for using boneless chicken breasts with the skin on. The couscous stuffing is then placed under the skin. I chose to use skinless breasts, and instead cut open the widest mid-section of east breast half, enough to place several tablespoons of stuffing inside. Some spilled out, but that just seemed to add to the flavor while cooking. A great little dish.

Moroccan couscous-stuffed chicken (modified slightly)

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cinnamon stick, broken in half

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/3 cup couscous (I used whole-wheat)

1/2 cup boiling chicken stock

8 small dried apricot halves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

salt and freshly ground pepper

4 boneless chicken breast halves, cutting a wide pouch inside the thickest point of each breast half

1 tablespoon harissa (optional) – I was fresh out! Still tasted great

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan. Add the cinnamon stick, cumin, and coriander and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Off the heat, add the couscous and boiling stock, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the apricots, pine nuts, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool to room temperature, then remove the cinnamon stick. Using a teaspoon, stuff the couscous into the pockets of each chicken breast. It’s okay if some spills out.

In a small bowl, mix the harissa with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Brush the chicken with the harissa oil and season with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the chicken and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 4 minutes. Turn the chicken and continue to cook til browned. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the chicken for about 15 minutes, or until white throughout. Serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.

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What did I love about this salad? Besides the yummy tastes and textures, the addictiveness of each bite, the ease in preparation, and the good-for-you health perks? I loved everything about it. This salad can be made vegetarian, or add your favorite protein to really round it out. I used grilled chicken, as the original blogger recommended, but I could envision this salad going great with grilled shrimp, or grilled tofu, or maybe even the addition of more veggies. It’s a homerun.

Brown rice salad with basil and pistachios (and grilled chicken) (from Cook, Snap, Repeat)

2 cups uncooked brown rice

1/4 cup golden raisins (I only had black raisins, and I thought it came out fine)

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup raw unsalted pistachio nuts

1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 small red onion, finely diced (I left this out – don’t like raw onions)

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely diced

1/4 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup firmly packed fresh basil leaves, cut into thin strips

1 or 2 grilled boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

Prepare the rice according to package instructions. While the rice is cooking, prepare the vinaigrette. Blend together until smooth the golden raisins, red wine vinegar, and olive oil

Toast in a skillet over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, the raw pistachios. When they are toasted, transfer them to a cutting board and let them cool slightly. Give them a rough chop if you wish.

In a large bowl, gently fold together the chickpeas, garlic, red onion, red bell pepper, golden raisins, the cooked brown rice, the pistachios, the vinaigrette, and salt and pepper to taste. Just before serving, fold in the basil leaves, and the grilled chicken, if you desire to add that.

Serve at room temperature or chilled. Makes 6 generous servings.

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