Monday, 2 June 2014

Birthday Dinner - Moroccan Inspired Chicken and Cous Cous

On Friday night it was my very great pleasure to cook a birthday dinner for my man-of-the-house. With both of us busy at work at the moment and our Little Miss not needing any more late nights this week, we decided to celebrate this birthday at home. Since my darling man does most of our cooking, it's somewhat of a novelty for me to be cooking a dinner party. 

In the interest of variety I decided to spurn the traditional roast or braise in favour of a little ethnic Moroccan inspired dish served with some seasonal vegetables. I didn't take many photos as coming straight from work, time was short!

Moroccan Inspired Chicken and Cous Cous
serves 6-8 

For the Marinade:
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground sweet smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon salt
3 cloves garlic - crushed
juice of 1 lemon

12 skin on boneless chicken thighs

Combine the marinade ingredients and place in a bag with the chicken. Return to the fridge and marinate for a few hours.

For the Cous Cous:
1 red onion
1/2 preserved lemon
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups boiling water or chicken stock
1 tablespoon salt
2 tablespoons liquid chicken stock concentrate - check the salt level before adding the additional salt to the liquid, as stock concentrate can contain a lot of salt.
3 cups instant cous cous

100g butter
20 large green olives 
1 cup sun dried tomatoes in olive oil - drained
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

To Serve:
1 cup walnuts
1 cup Greek yoghurt

Preheat the oven to 200deg. C and line a large roasting dish with cooking foil. 
Once the oven reaches temperature, place the marinated chicken into the tray, making sure to leave a gap between each piece. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and the internal temperature has reached 75deg. C.

While the chicken is cooking, make the cous cous and prepare the walnuts and yoghurt:
In separate dishes, toast the walnuts and pumpkin seeds until golden. Be careful as they easily burn. Set these aside until needed.

Line a sieve with a clean, fine kitchen cloth. Place over a bowl and add the yoghurt. This will drain the extra liquid from the yoghurt and make it much thicker. Place a large serving platter into the warming draw.

To make the cous cous: In a large saucepan, fry the finely diced onion in the olive oil until soft. Slice the preserved lemon into small pieces and add with the water or stock, and the stock concentrate. Bring back to the boil and check the seasoning before adding the additional salt. Take from the heat, tip in the dry cous cous and stir. Place a tightly fitting lid on the pot and leave for 10 minutes to swell. 
Prepare the olives by pitting and slicing into chunks. Chop the sun dried tomatoes into thin slices. Once the cous cous is ready, fluff it with a fork and stir in the olives, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and butter.

To assemble the dish:
The chicken and cous cous should be ready at about the same time. Spread the thick Greek yoghurt onto the warmed, large serving platter. Pile the cous cous onto the platter. Arrange the cooked chicken thighs around the top of the cous cous. Then top with a sprinkling of the toasted walnuts.

I served this with butternut pumpkin wedges, whole carrots and beetroot halves roasted in olive oil.

We had Apple Crumble with Icecream for pudding.

Happy birthday my darling! Nothing better than a good time spent with family and friends.

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