Martha Stewart Living (January 2009)
It's been a while since we've cooked anything out of Martha Stewart Living.
We love the magazine, and have continued to read it, but none of the recent recipes really jumped out to us, or if they did, they didn't seem quite right for us.
There was, for instance, a beautiful recipe for Leg of Pork with Cracklings back in October. But really you need the right occasion to cook a 20-pound piece of pork. And that occasion never seemed to arrive for us.
Then in November, Cassidy brought the Triple-Chocolate Pumpkin Pie to Thanksgiving, which we loved but we can't exactly take credit for making it.
And we were intrigued by December's Yorkshire Puddings, but we haven't gotten around to making them yet.
So it's been a dry run with Martha in our house. But no more!
Meet Chicken and Israeli Couscous with Tomato and Lemon, a dish we demand that you cook this week.
This recipe calls for chicken breasts, but we used thighs. We could say it's because we think bone-in thighs have a richer taste (and we think they do). But the real reason was the cost: We found chicken thighs at our local Harris Teeter on sale for 50 cents a pound. So all the meat for this dish cost us less than $2.00. (Hello, new economy!)
Anyway, the real star here is the Israeli couscous. Now, we cook with regular couscous a lot. If you need a quick grain to round out a meal, it's a great standby. Boil water, dump in the couscous, turn off the heat, don't touch it for 5 minutes. Boom -- it's ready to eat.
But it's never the most satisfying thing. Couscous starts out dry and dusty, and it can end up dense and mealy. It's fine, but it's never the star of the show.
Israeli couscous, though, is like an entirely different food. It plumps up into these luscious individual pearls that pop in your mouth. (It's akin to the difference between steel-cut oats and quick-cook oatmeal, but maybe even more extreme.) If you're not familiar but wanting to try it, you can buy Israeli couscous at Whole Foods (we were unable to find it at our other local supermarkets).
The couscous gives this dish an almost creamy, hefty base. And the tomatoes, peas and chicken just play off each other perfectly. The saffron -- which we first tried out not that long ago -- infuses the whole thing with a terrific flavor and a gorgeous amber hue.
Oddly, though, our favorite single ingredient in this was the lemon. It gives the dish a final extra lift, giving a light and clean grace note to the rest of the tastes. We amped up the lemon with extra peel in the cooking and a sprinkling of more lemon juice right before serving. Delicious!
If you're looking for a dish that's rich, comforting and deeply soul-satisfying -- with a couple of great flavor twists -- you must make this recipe.
And we're definitely going to be cooking with Israeli couscous. It's delicious.
Know of any Israeli couscous recipes we should try?
Chicken and Israeli Couscous with Tomato and Lemon
Martha Stewart Living (January 2009)
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1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup Israeli couscous
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 Roma or plum tomatoes (about 1 pound), cut lengthwise into 6 slices
3 garlic cloves, minced (1 tbsp)
4 strips lemon peel (2 inches each)
Pinch of saffron
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1-1/2 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 lemon, cut into wedges, for serving
1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add couscous, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer to a bowl, and return skillet to heat.
2. Cook chicken, smooth side down, until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Flip, and cook for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate, reserving drippings in skillet.
3. Reduce heat to medium, add onion, and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, garlic, lemon peel, and saffron, and cook, stirring frequently, until tomatoes begin to break down, 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Return chicken to skillet. Add wine, and cook for 4 minutes. Add stock, salt, and couscous, and stir. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until couscous is tender and chicken is cooked through, 12 to 14 minutes. Stir in peas, and cook until heated through, about 1 minute. Serve immediately with lemon.