Chicken and Israeli couscous

Moroccan-inspired chicken

A trip to Morocco wouldn’t be complete without some chicken. I found this recipe over on Epicurious and since I was missing some of the listed ingredients, I adapted the recipe to make Moroccan-inspired chicken.

I chose to serve this with a side of couscous, but when I was at the store I wasn’t able to find the traditional type of couscous (which I ended up finding after I made this dish), so I decided to use Israeli couscous instead. This version of couscous can’t be confused with the type served in Morocco, as the grains of Israeli couscous are much larger and it is simmered in water or broth and not steamed.

Chicken and Israeli couscous
Moroccan-inspired chicken with Israeli couscous.

What you’ll need
6 tablespoons olive oil, separated
3 cups sliced onions
3 – 4 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ground
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 – 2 leeks, sliced
2 orange (or any color) peppers, chopped
3 – 4 small/medium tomatoes seeded and diced
1 cup water
3 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
2 whole chicken legs (or more if needed)
1 large eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch cubes
Chopped fresh cilantro

About 20 minutes before you want to start cooking, marinate the chicken in a dry rub of salt, pepper, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Add a drop of oil to work the spices into the chicken and let sit in a bowl at room temperature. I do this because it adds extra flavor to the chicken. I like to leave chicken legs whole, but if you’re working more than two, it might be easier to separate the drumsticks and thighs.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large wide pot over medium heat.

Add onions and garlic. Cover and cook until onions are soft, about 10 minutes. Add paprika, salt, coriander, fennel, pepper, and cumin; stir 1 minute. Add the leeks and cook until slightly soft. Then add the peppers, tomatoes, 1 cup water, and 3 tablespoons lemon juice; bring to boil.

cooking the vegetables
Getting the vegetables ready to cook the chicken.

Arrange all chicken in single layer in pot; spoon some sauce over. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Turn chicken over, cover, and simmer until chicken is tender, about 20 minutes longer.

Chicken cooking in vegetables
Chicken legs cooking in vegetables.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F. Brush large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil (or just cover with Reynold’s non-stick aluminum foil – this is what I use all of the time). Place eggplant and remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil in large bowl; toss to coat. Spread eggplant out on prepared baking sheet and bake until soft and brown, stirring occasionally, about 25 minutes.

Stir eggplant into chicken. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes to heat through and blend flavors. Season stew to taste with more lemon juice, if desired, and salt and pepper.

Serve with your side of choice and pile on the vegetables you cooked the chicken in (or you could just eat the chicken and veggies).

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