Recipe: Moroccan baked chicken with chickpeas and couscous

This is definitely one to make again – based on a Delia recipe, but substituting couscous for rice, and making a few other tweaks along the way. I’ve been enjoying Pret soups at work for lunch, and particularly like their Moroccan chicken recipe, so wanted to see if I could make something similar at home.

This all came together from store cupboard ingredients in the end (I had a chicken in the freezer, a well-stocked spice cupboard, and tinned chickpeas are on special offer at Morrisons at the moment, so all good). You could cut back on the level of meat per person – with the chickpeas and couscous it is quite filling already, so 1/2 a chicken breast each would be quite sufficient.

Ingredients

1 x 2kg chicken – jointed (jointing more difficult than it looks! I only managed to detach the legs and breasts… hmmm – chicken stock made from the rest)

1 x 400g tin of chickpeas

175g couscous

2 fresh chillies, finely chopped  (leave the seeds if you like your food nice and hot)

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp turmeric (saffron in the original recipe, but I’m not made of cash, and like turmeric!)

handful of fresh coriander

1 small lemon

2 large yellow peppers

2 large onions

6 cloves of garlic (you could halve this, easily- we just like garlic)

275ml chicken stock

150ml dry white wine

2 tbsp olive oil

Black pepper

How to:

1. Toast the cumin and corander seeds in a dry frying pan for 2-3 minutes until they start to change colour/dance in the pan. Remove, and crush in a pestle and mortar.

2. Heat the oil in a wide, shallow, flameproof casserole dish, and brown the chicken for 3-4 mins (skin-side down, if you are leaving the skin on).

3. Add the chopped onions, pepper (both roughly chopped) and cook until soft/the edges are browning (another 3-4 minutes), and then turn the heat down.

3. Strip the coriander leaves from the stalks, and put the leaves to one side. Finely chop the stalks,  and put these, along with the garlic, chillies, crushed spices and the (rinsed) chickpeas into the pan. Give it a good stir to mix it all about.

4. Combine the juice of the lemon with the stock and the wine, and the turmeric, and pour into the casserole dish. Stir well. Cut half the lemon rind finely (or alternatively, just use the lemon zest – I used all the lemon rind, and it was a little bit tart), and add to the pan.

5. Cover with a tight fitting lit and place in the oven at about 200C for about an hour.

6. Add the couscous, and a handful of chopped, dried apricots, and cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed.

I may use more liquid and coucous next time (but then – I didn’t measure the couscous – just used about 1/3 of a packet). Really, really nice, and would work well without the chicken because there is enough spice there.

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