The week’s cooking practice got put to the test this evening when a friend came for a sunset dinner at the beach. Phillip is the man who charts my decline into poverty and watches over my pennies at the bank. Confidence is such that I’ve followed him through four bank moves in the past eleven years. My guess is the dinner turned out well; timing of everything was perfect, except right at the moment of putting it all on the table, I couldn't find a corkscrew to open the wine with. Strange as it seems, there is no corkscrew in my kitchen, or at least I don’t have one any more. Would’ve sworn there was one there for the simple reason that I’ve always had a corkscrew. Had to borrow one this time.
I knew that my friend would be happy with chicken, so over the past several days I have been concocting and experimenting with a couscous and chicken recipe idea. A lot of my grocery shopping now is a matter of new discoveries and getting a feel for what I can and can’t find in the market. No question that the Publix here in Florida is vastly different from my old Summit Supermarket in Tokyo. I'm still finding my way. The ingredients for this new chicken couscous recipe turned out to be fairly standard and the shopping was easy.
Call it whatever you like, or stick with the generic sounding ‘chicken couscous’ the finished dish has a North African texture and flavor. One thing for certain is the healthful quality of the ingredients. There’s nothing in this recipe to alarm even the strictest of diet conscious eaters, and you can prove it by the doctor. Some might balk at the pre-dinner tortilla chips and guacamole, but hold back on the chips and you’re safe.
The guacamole is a recipe I’ve used for years and never fails to impress. The mix is simple:
One or two ripe avocados rough chopped in a bowl; add some chopped tomato, chopped onion, and a little chopped garlic. Stir in some salsa (I use bottled) and about two heaping tablespoons of plain yogurt. Add salt, pepper, chili powder and a squeeze of lemon juice.
1 box of plain or flavored couscous. (I used Near East brand, roasted garlic & olive oil this time,
but plain couscous is a better health choice.)
3 cups of shredded roast chicken; a rotisserie chicken is easiest
2 cups of chopped onion, green pepper & tomato mixed together
2 cups of broccoli stalks peeled and julienned
4 tablespoons of good quality olive oil
1 large clove of garlic
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
Salt & pepper
Stir the couscous (and seasoning packet contents if there is a packet) into one and a quarter cups of boiling water, with an added tablespoon of olive oil. As soon as the couscous comes to a boil, turn off the fire and cover the pot. Allow the couscous to stand covered for five minutes.
Meanwhile, add the remaining olive oil to a wok along with finely chopped garlic and half a teaspoon of Italian seasoning. Be careful that the garlic does not burn.
When the couscous has absorbed all the water, fluff it with a fork and then add it to the wok. Stir, being sure to mix it well with the seasoning, garlic and oil. Add the chicken and toss well; next stir in the onion, green pepper & tomato mix, as well as the julienned broccoli.
Give the couscous-chicken-vegetable mix a good stir now and then as it continues to cook on medium high heat. The vegetables should be tender after 15 minutes.
I served the couscous with steamed asparagus and summer squash, and a simple green salad of lettuce, tomato and cucumber. (And how I wish I could get Japanese cucumbers here.)
This is an easy meal and one that will very likely please the folks at the dinner table.