There has not been a lot of cooking in my kitchen these past two weeks. We were in house “staging” mode for one week, and then house-selling mode for the second week, and by decree of my real estate agent (bless him), there was to be nothing smelly, nothing backsplash-staining, nothing fridge-grossening until the house was sold. And so we subsisted on a combination of restaurant meals, take-out pizza, sandwiches and ravioli. And vacuumed, bought flowers, dusted and made our beds–a lot.
Lucky for us, we signed a deal on Monday, five days after the house went onto the market. Hooray! What a relief to be back in the kitchen. Just in time for spring barbecue season! Uh, or not so much. At least not in my part of the world. My dad once famously declared “summer never comes when summer comes” to describe the rainy Vancouver summers that I grew up with. And this has certainly been a spring that never came when spring came. If you know what I mean.
With the weather feeling more like November than April, I’ve officially extended the braising, stewing, roasting season for at least a couple more weeks. But spiced things up for “spring” with this quick and easy Moroccan-inspired chicken dish. The recipe uses chicken thighs, which are infinitely tastier than chicken breasts (though I am still working on ways to make chicken breasts taste good, like these ones). And more forgiving too: you can cook the heck out of thighs without turning them into rubber. The thighs are seared to lock in their juices and enhance their flavour, then bathed in a spice-flecked tomatoey sauce. I like to serve them with couscous, partly for the Moroccan-ness of it all, but mostly because couscous goes from dry to dinner-table-ready in minutes. Perfect for a busy weeknight. Add a little steamed broc or a tossed salad and you’ve got a colourful, healthful still-waiting-for-spring supper.
Bathe chicken thighs in a zesty Moroccan-inspired tomato sauce, and then tuck them into a fluffy bed of raisin-studded couscous for a quick and easy still-waiting-for-spring family dinner.
- For chicken:
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil (I use sunflower, but any vegetable oil will work)
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Salt and pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Chopped cilantro (optional)
- For couscous:
- 1 cup whole wheat couscous
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups boiling water
- Cut chicken thighs in half, pat them dry with a paper towel and sprinkle them generously with salt and ground pepper.
- Heat the cooking oil in the bottom of a heavy bottom pot (I used my Le Creuset dutch oven) set over medium-high heat.
- When oil is shimmering, add chicken thighs. Cook until they start to get brown and crispy, then flip them and do the same to the other side.
- Lower the heat to medium-low and add garlic, cumin, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon stick and cayenne (if using). Stir it all around until you can smell the spices.
- Turn heat back up to medium-high and add the tomatoes and their juices, crushing each tomato between your fingers as you add it to the pot.
- Drizzle the honey over top and bring it to a boil.
- When liquid is boiling, turn heat to low and simmer until chicken is cooked through and sauce is reduced, about 20-30 minutes. If you'd like to reduce your sauce even further, remove the chicken and turn sauce to high heat for a few minutes to let some liquid boil off.
- Season with salt to taste (it will depend on how salty your tomatoes are).
- While chicken is cooking, put couscous, raisins, butter and salt in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Put a lid on the bowl and leave it for a few minutes, until the couscous has absorbed all the water.
- Fluff couscous with a fork, and serve chicken and sauce over couscous. Garnish with cilantro if desired.