Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Chicken, couscous and lentils

You could of course use left-over, cooked chicken in this dish. If you did, and if you cooked the lentils in water (draining them when soft) and soaked the couscous in water, you would get a much grainier result than I did - my concoction was sludgy, because of the syrupiness of stock when reduced. Serves 4.

6 chicken thighs
3 garlic cloves - 2 whole, 1 chopped
Chicken stock
150g green lentils
150g couscous
Handful of pine kernels, toasted in a small saucepan
6 spring onions, sliced (cover them in boiling water and soak them for 30 minutes if you think they may be too assertive)
1 aubergine, cubed, tossed in olive oil, seasoned, baked for 30 minutes until tender
Handful parsley, chopped
1 lime, juiced
Olive oil
Tin of tomatoes
1tsp harissa

Put the thighs in a pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Pour in stock (or water) to come up to a level with the tops of them. Throw in the whole garlic cloves, with a bay leaf and a few peppercorns. Bring to a simmer and cook on a low heat, covered, until very tender - about 60 to 90 minutes. Remove the thighs to a bowl, and shred.

Use the liquid in which you've cooked the chicken to boil the lentils. Wash the lentils, drain them, and cover with stock with about 2cms to spare. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook until tender - about 30 minutes. Top up the liquid if and when necessary. When the lentils are nearly tender, uncover the pan and allow the liquid to evaporate.

Put the couscous into a measuring jug, check the level, then return it to the bowl in which you weighed it. Pour stock (you should have some left) or water into the jug to come to the same level. Bring it to a boil in a saucepan, tip in the couscous, make sure it is all soaked, and cover for five minutes.

Warm the chopped garlic in a tbsp olive oil in a saucepan. Tip in the tomatoes, with a little salt and the harissa. Add any stock you have left. (You can break up the tomatoes with a potato masher.) Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl mix the chicken, lentils, pine kernels, spring onions, aubergines, parsley, lime, and a tbsp or two of olive oil. Serve the tomato sauce on the side.

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