It is about 20 degrees cooler than normal here this weekend, so it's a good week to pull out all the recipes for soups and stews.
I made couscous for our supper last night. It is a dish that originates in North Africa and that we have been served many times in France. They even have a special piece of cooking equipment that looks kind of like a percolator to prepare it in called a couscoussière. The stew cooks in the bottom part and the pasta steams on the top.
The name couscous refers to both the grain and the stew that is served on top of the grain. The pasta is available just about everywhere now and is very versatile. You can find larger boxes of it at Middle Eastern grocery stores. You can use the grain as a side dish as you would use rice or potatoes, in salads, and even in desserts -- sort of like a rice pudding. It is very easy to cook -- sort of like you would cook minute rice. You just add the grain to boiling water with some butter or oil then place the lid on the saucepan and let it steam for about five minutes. Then you fluff it with a fork and you are good to go.
The stew probably has as many variations as there are recipes for chili here. Here is how I make it:
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 small turnips, peeled and diced into 1/2" cubes
6 carrots, peeled and cut into about 1 inch pieces
1 can chick peas, drained or 2-3 cups cooked chick peas
1/2 pound kielbasa, sliced about 1/4" thick
2 chicken breast quarters or 4 thighs, skinned, but bone in
2-3 small zucchini, sliced about 1/2" thick
4-5 cups water
salt and pepper
hot sauce and chicken soup base
1/4 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. cumin
In large crock pot place onions, turnips, and carrots, seasoning with the salt, pepper, tumeric, cumin and garlic powder. Top with the water, the sliced kielbasa, and the chicken breasts. Cook until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is done (about 4 hours on high.) Remove the chicken to a plate to cool. Test the vegetables for doneness and season the broth with chicken base and hot sauce to your taste. At this time add the zucchini and chick peas and cook for an additional hour or until the zucchini is tender. Bone the chicken and add back in right before serving.
This should have quite a bit of broth. To serve you ladle the stew on top of the couscous and serve with additional hot sauce on the side if desired. It's definitely an acquired taste, but I love the sweetness of the carrots, the slight bitterness of the turnips, the nuttiness of the chick peas and the salty smokiness of the sausage and chicken.
So, if you are in an adventurous mood, give it a try.
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