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.