Home In Disarray

August 5, 2010

Israeli couscous with harissa yogurt sauce and grilled chicken

Israeli Couscous with Harissa Yogurt Sauce and grilled chicken
By

A few weeks ago, my dad and Kim took us to dinner at this French restaurant in Ballard. Upon reading the menu and about them on their website, then their abysmal beer list (oh the humanity!) I was certain they were going to be pretentious. So let’s just say that I went in there fully expecting (and ready) to hate the place for being a pretentious French bistro. We got there, and there was nothing to make me believe that it would be otherwise.

Then I had the greatest Manhattan of my life. It was exceptional. And then the meal. Oh, the meal. It was like French/North African fusion, which really makes sense. There are a great deal of North Africans in France, and since French food tends to focus more on technique and not so much on specific flavors, blending it with a really flavor-forward cuisine works magically. My entreé was “Poulet Confit – Tender, Crispy Chicken Confit, Yogurt, Israeli Couscous, Cucumber, Red Bell Pepper, Harissa.” And it was one of the top 2-3 meals of my life. It was mind blowingly good. And I haven’t been able to think about creating another dish ever since. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any recipe that even partially recreated those flavors. So I stewed on it for weeks, nervous of failing.

Then I decided to throw caution to the wind and just DO IT! So I did, and even when I substituted ingredients, and messed with the balance of the dish, it was fucking EPIC!

Israeli Couscous with Harissa Yogurt Sauce and grilled chicken

I started by cooking the israeli couscous. It’s different from normal couscous in that it’s big. Like fish eggs. Or eyeballs. Unlike fish parts, it doesn’t make me squeamish. But it does have to boil for a bit, instead of just steaming like little couscous. Don’t substitute. The israeli couscous makes the dish. I got mine in the bulk section at Fred Meyer. Anyway, it needs to be cooked until it’s all the way done (no al dente!) and then drained, and have cool water run over it to cool it down.

While the couscous is cooking, fire up your grill, then throw the chicken on. I seasoned mine with this seasoning called “Kick N Chicken.” The total lack of respect for the english language on that container makes me seethe with anger every time I see it, but it’s so good that I keep giving that company my money. How sad. And keep an eye on the chicken. You don’t want it drying out. Remember that the restaurant counterpart of this grilled chicken breast is a bone-in chicken leg that’s been stewed in fat. (YUM)

Now all that’s left is the yogurt sauce. These are all incredibly approximate measurements. I’m not good about measuring non-baking things. 1 cup whole milk yogurt (I used homemade Greek yogurt, but normal storebought stuff is fine as long as it’s not runny), 1 small zucchini (shredded, then quickly sautéed in a nonstick pan with a little butter, just to remove the raw-ness of it – I’d normally use a seeded cucumber, but I was too lazy to go to the store after work, and this zucchini was hangin’ in the garden), the zest and 1/3ish of the juice from a lemon that’s going to go bad if you don’t use it soon, 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp cumin, <1/4 tsp ground coriander, several chopped or torn mint leaves, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, and salt to taste. You may need more cayenne, depending on how spicy you want this.

Now all you need to do is rest, then slice the chicken, mix the cool couscous with the yogurt mixture, plate it up, and enjoy with a very dirty vodka martini.

Posted in: Cooking, Food