Monday, October 16, 2006

The Grand Bazaar

Grand Bazaar (Oil on Canvas by Haydar Hatemi)


You may have noticed a theme lately. For the past month I have really had a hankering for Middle Eastern cuisine. Thank you very much The Language of Baklava-fun book.

Tonight I thought I'd go for broke and make something up.

So we have Braised Baharat Chicken and Bazaar Middle Eastern Couscous.

Middle Eastern Couscous-cooked. Also known as Israeli Couscous, Pearl Couscous...among other names. Regular couscous consists of small grainy little bits of pasta that need to be fluffed to serve-tasty stuff. This couscous is larger with nearly round tender bits. I found this at Whole Foods this weekend...after looking for many months. I'm really excited I found it and plan to get more the exact next time I find it...love it so much more than regular couscous!


Let's Get To It!

Braised Baharat Chicken
2 Large Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken Breasts
1 Medium Onion
5 Cloves Garlic, Crushed
2 TB Baharat Spice Blend
1 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Cup Water
Salt/Pepper
4 TB Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350.

Oh...oh! What's this? It's my new Le Creuset enameled Dutch Oven! I had no intentions on buying it this weekend, but we had a new Marshall's store open in our mall and I went looking for frames and found this beauty hanging out in the back. HALF OFF! Still spendy, but HALF OFF! I'm very happy with how well this little beast worked!


In a medium skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat, bring the olive oil to temperature and add the chicken breasts, seasoned with salt & pepper. Allow to get all browned and crispy. Turn over and saute for another few minutes. You're not cooking the chicken through, just getting a nice carmelization on the bottom and some color on the skin. Remove to a plate.

Add the onions and garlic, stirring around to coat with the oil in the pan and allow to saute for about five minutes until the onions are tender. Season with a pinch of salt. After five minutes, stir in the Baharat seasoning, until the onions and garlic are coated and the spice scent is filling the kitchen. Add the wine and allow to simmer for a minute, bringing all the flavors together. Stir in the one cup of water. Bring to a simmer and gently add the chicken back to the pan, cover and place in the hot oven for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is 160 degrees on the inside.

Onions and Garlic!

Wine and seasoning has been added.

Serve on a warm plate and spoon the onions and sauce over the top of the chicken.

Bazaar Middle Eastern Couscous

3/4 dry middle eastern couscous
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup toasted pistachios, chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried cherries, chopped
1 medium carrot, sliced thinnly
1/3 orange bell pepper, sliced
1/2 small onion, diced
2 tsp Zatar spice blend
3 TB Olive Oil
Salt
Saffron

Happy Happy Joy Joy, unload the cupboard into this treat!

Bring a medium pot of water (at least 8 cups) to a boil. Add two medium pinches of salt and a small pinch of saffron. Add the dried couscous. Boil for ten minutes, until al dente. Drain and pour into a warm bowl. Add half the olive oil, stir and set aside until the rest of the goodies are done.

Cover the raisins and dried cherries with hot water, set aside.

In the same pot, bring the remaining olive oil to a shimmer. Add the onions, peppers and carrots and a pinch of salt, saute for five minutes. Pour the reserved couscous into the pan; add the Zatar seasoning and stir to incorporate. Drain the soaking fruit and add to the couscous. Prior to serving, stir in the nuts.

Serve hot or warm. Room temperature or cool is fine as well, but warm is better!

Nearly done. So much color!

Done! I gave the name Bazaar Couscous because everything I had is in there...everything the market had. So good. The sweetness from the fruit. Crunchy nuts. Crisp carrots and tender onions and peppers. And I'd say pretty healthy. Some olive oil and that's really it for added fat.

Dinner. After braising, the chicken took on a rich, dark mahogany color, which was perfectly set off by the confetti colors of the couscous. Make sure to put some sauce and onions on the chicken.

9 comments:

joyous said...

I covet your couscous.

ScottE. said...

joyous--i'm hitched...you can't proposition me like that!

Dancer in DC said...

Sooo yummy. The couscous was just to die for. Lots of flavors, and surprisingly healthy. This is another one of those restaurant quality side dishes.

Anonymous said...

Wow, looks so delicious! I'm still hankerin' for Middle Eastern food too!

Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

Oh, that looks so good!

Jon said...

You're really stepping up your cooking lately... Wow, that couscous looks great, and the braised chicken? Looks so tender.

Gina said...

Just found this; love this recipe and the photos -- you've inspired me to go get some proper middle eastern spices. I've got some Israeli couscous I've been experimenting with, which I totally agree is sooo much better than the standard tiny version we stateside non-easterners have come to know...I can't wait to try your tips. Your blog is new to me; I'm off to explore further! Thanks!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

HELLO ALL, I'm revisiting this recipe to see how it has evolved. I continue to make this, fairly frequently, but without following the recipe at this point. Cheers -ScottE.

Updated version:
Bazaar Middle Eastern Couscous
1 1/2 dry middle eastern couscous
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts or almonds
1/4 cup toasted pistachios, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup golden raisins
1/4-1/2 cup dried cherries, cranberries or pomegranate
2 medium carrot, sliced thinnly
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 tsp Zatar spice blend (http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/p-penzeyszatar.html)
3 TB Olive Oil
Salt

Bring a medium pot of water (at least 8 cups) to a boil. Add the couscous. Boil according to instructions, until al dente. Drain (reserve some water, just in case its needed for the finished dish) and pour into a warm bowl. Add half the olive oil, stir and set aside until the rest of the goodies are done.

In the same pot, bring the olive oil to a shimmer. Add the onions, peppers and carrots and a pinch of salt, saute for five minutes--until the carrots are tender. Add the reserved couscous into the pan; add the Zatar seasoning and stir to incorporate. Add the fruit and nuts add to the couscous.

Serve hot or warm. Room temperature or cool is fine as well, but warm is better!


Chicken is an addition to the dish. Dice chicken breast (as much or as little as you like) and season with your preferred blend of spices. I like to use a homemade blend call Baharat. (http://sseichinger.blogspot.com/2006/09/spice-is-nice.html)

If that's not available, I might use Garam Masala and paprika. This is flexible, use what you like. Try something outside the normal range of season blends! This is forgiving. A sweet curry would work too, I might not use as much though.

Anyway, I add 1-3 Tablespoons of spice blend, to fully coat the chicken. Allow to sit while you prepare the ingredients for the couscous.

When it's time to cook, I start with the chicken. Cook in olive oil until done, a few minutes of a high heat saute. Remove to a plate, then start in with veggies.