There was an over abundance of tomatoes in the house, and they were starting to go soft. I remembered this recipe in the Paula Wolfert book "Couscous and other Good Food from Morocco". This is an interesting and inspiring book, both to read, and to cook from. I have used quite a few of the recipes, but I had made this one only once before. Time to try it again...here is my version.
The day before you cook the chicken, you want to marinate it in the following:
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Rub this mixture onto 12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Wrap well and keep refrigerated until it is time to cook them.
Peel, seed and chop 2 1/2 pounds of fresh tomatoes (I said I had a lot!). This is the easiest way to do this, step by step:
Using a sharp knife, cut the stem out, and score an X on the opposite side of each tomato.
Place the tomatoes into a pot of boiling water, and leave just until the skin cracks, about 30 seconds to 1 minute .
Immediately remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and run under cold water until they have cooled down. This stops them from overcooking, and also forces the skin to release even more.
Using your fingers, peel the skin off the tomatoes, it should already have lifted and peel away very easily.
Cut the tomatoes in half, across the 'equator' exposing the seed chambers.
Gently pull the seeds out, using your finger tip, and discard.
And there you have it, 2 1/2 pounds of tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped.
Set these aside for now.
Place the marinated chicken thighs into a heavy bottomed pan, along with:
1/3 cup minced onion
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup of water
Bring this to a boil, then allow it to simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
the prepared tomatoes
1 heaping tablespoon of tomato paste
Cook over low heat, turning the chicken occasionally, for about 45 minutes, until the chicken is tender.
Remove the cooked chicken, and reserve for later.
Allow the sauce to cook over a medium high heat, stirring often to avoid scorching, until the water is almost all evaporated, and you are left with a thick, chunky tomato sauce.
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons honey
Cook for a couple of minutes.
Now add the cooked chicken back into the sauce, and simmer until it is heated through, and coated with the sauce.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve the chicken and sauce over hot couscous. Garnish with toasted almonds if you wish.
- The original recipe calls for whole chicken, cut into quarters. I find it less messy to eat boneless thighs, but the bone does add a lot of extra flavour.
- The tomatoes can be prepared the day before, when you are marinating the chicken.
- Couscous is simple to cook. For each 1 cup of dry couscous, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Stir in the couscous, cover and remove from the heat. Allow this to sit for 5 - 10 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Use a fork to gently fluff the couscous, and it is ready to serve.
- Instead of plain water, use chicken or vegetable broth, juice or a combination.
- Diced vegetables such as onion, zucchini, carrots or peppers can be cooked before adding the liquid and proceeding with the couscous. Add spices such as garlic, ginger, cinnamon, turmeric or coriander.
- Dried fruit could be added to the sauce with the honey at the end...raisins, dates, apricots.
- Feel free to add more vegetables to the sauce.
- Cook extra couscous and use it to make salad : combined with grape tomatoes, cucumber, red peppers, corn, olives and dressed with lemon juice and olive oil; try chopped dried fruit such as figs, dates and apricots along with toasted almonds, dressed with lime juice and olive oil and sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese.
- No couscous? Serve the sauce over rice or pasta.
- The chicken and sauce can be made ahead and frozen.