Couscous makes a tasty, quick stuffing for a roast chicken. This recipe can be used either that way, or separately as a side dish. I start by softening the aromatics, stirring in some freshly toasted and ground coriander. Then I add the dry couscous and cook it briefly, as one would do when starting a risotto. This gives a deeper flavor to the grain. Currants are added, to balance the tartness of the lemon juice and zest. If you are using the couscous to stuff a chicken, remember that the cavity isn’t particularly large, so don’t expect a lot of it per person, if you plan to serve four people. The flavors from the roasting chicken make this couscous quite tasty, which to my mind makes it worth the extra few minutes to put it in the bird. Please see my notes at the end of the recipe on using this in a roast chicken. Enjoy!! —AntoniaJames
3 or 4
cipolline onions, finely chopped, or enough chopped shallots or sweet onions to make a scant 1/2 cup
medium cloves of garlic
olive or canola oil
freshly toasted and ground coriander (see note below), plus more (optional) if roasting a chicken
lemon zest (or zest from 2 medium lemons), finely grated or chopped, and divided
chopped cilantro, divided
currants (preferably Zante currants)
light chicken or vegetable stock, or water -- or whatever quantity is called for in the cooking instructions for the couscous. (See note below.)
Juice of one medium or large lemon
In This Recipe
Saute the chopped onions in the oil until it starts to become translucent. Add the garlic, stirring constantly for about ten or fifteen seconds.
Add the anchovy paste and coriander. Stir well to combine, over medium heat, taking care not to burn it or the onions.
Add 1 tablespoon of the lemon zest and the dry couscous and stir quickly and carefully over medium heat, coating the couscous with the fragrant oil. Continue to stir for at least a minute, or more.
Quickly stir in 2 tablespoons of the cilantro, the butter, if using, and the currants. Combine thoroughly and turn the heat down to low.
If you are stuffing a chicken with this, use about two tablespoons less per cup of liquid, as the chicken will release juices that the couscous will absorb.
Add the lemon juice to the measuring cup in which you have the stock and add all at once to the pan with the couscous, covering it immediately. Turn off the heat.
If not using to stuff a chicken, let it sit for a few minutes, then fluff it up with a fork, and taste and add salt, if necessary. Add the remaining lemon zest and cilantro, and serve.
If stuffing a chicken, rinse the chicken including the cavity and pat dry. I plug up the neck end with one of the lemon halves that I squeezed for juice. Then put the couscous mixture in. It will continue to absorb moisture while the chicken is cooking, and may expand outside the cavity, but should toast up nicely on the outside. Some may fall into the roasting pan. Don't worry about it, but do make sure that the roasting pan remains moist.
Use whatever roasting method you prefer. (I use my clay pot, because the cooked chicken is so moist.) I slice a couple of Meyer lemons, dredge a few of the pieces very lightly in the freshly ground coriander and gently put all of the lemon slices (from which I’ve picked out the seeds) under the skin that covers the chicken breasts. Then I stuff a few sprigs of fresh cilantro in as well, on each side. The juices from the roast are fragrant and delicious!
Before serving, add the remaining cilantro and lemon zest and add salt, to taste, if necessary.
Note about the coriander: Using whole coriander seeds which you have toasted gently and then ground, right before using, makes this so much better. You'll need 1 tablespoon plus one teaspoon of seeds for every tablespoon of ground coriander. Use a small heavy skillet to heat the seeds for about four or five minutes. Be careful to stir them constantly and to remove them from the heat, and the pan, if necessary, once they become darker brown. Once they start to turn, they will darken very quickly, so please watch carefully, lest they burn. Let the whole seeds cool for a few minutes, then grind in an electric spice grinder until finely ground. They'll smell wonderful.
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)