Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chicken, squash, and olive tagine over couscous

 In ridiculously exciting news, Pure Land Organic has found a home.

Fifteen acres of beautiful lush pasture in Mckinney, Texas. And the neighbor has a pet pig! It's fate. Anyway, as soon as we can figure out where to start, we're a-gonna. Squee!

Meanwhile, still gotta eat. Allan asks me to make this again and again. With good reason! It's absolutely teeming with flavor and healthfulness. It's also a great way to use up the other half of a butternut I always seem to have leftover from something and whatever sprouty potatoes are laying around, too. Pretend the new potatoes came from my garden. The tops are looking wilty, I think a harvest is nigh.

This is a conglomeration of three or four recipes. If my acorn squash were mature, I'd have used one in place of the butternut. They got off to kind of a rough start, I had to drop a little knowledge on them and do some manual pollination, which just means rubbing a male flower in a female one. Dirty. But the ones I hooked up are definitely taking off, so I guess you gotta do what you gotta do. I can certainly handle facilitating a little flower sex order to have squash.

As written this makes four servings, so we usually have it for dinner and take the rest for lunch. You could easily leave out the chicken to make it vegetarian, which I would certainly do if it weren't for the person in my house that goes, "Where's the meat in this?..." So I compromise by using less. Ain't love grand?

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, or 4 thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
1/2 a gigantic Texas sweet onion (or one normal-sized yellow onion), finely diced
~ 4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp garam masala
1 stick of cinnamon
good pinch of cayenne pepper
1 14oz can of crushed tomatoes or tomato sauce
~ 2 cups butternut squash, peeled (be careful) and diced
~ 2 cups new potatoes, diced
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
low-sodium chicken broth, as needed (not more than 2 cups for the tagine but you need more for the couscous, so just buy a carton) 1 cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup couscous, I like the whole-wheat variety

cilantro to garnish

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven. Season the chicken with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. When the oil is hot, add your chicken and allow to brown on all sides. Then add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, two or three minutes. Add all of the spices, stir through and allow to toast for another couple of minutes. Then add the tomato sauce, butternut squash, new potatoes, and chickpeas. Add enough chicken broth to just come to the top of the vegetables. It should be saucy at the end, not soupy. Cover and simmer for about half an hour, until the potatoes and squash are fork-tender.

While that's happening, heat the other half-cup of chicken stock in a small pot. Season lightly with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and when boiling, pour in your couscous, stir through, turn off the heat, and cover. After five minutes, fluff the couscous with a fork.

Serve a generous ladle full of your tagine over a scoop of couscous in a wide shallow bowl. Garnish with a few sprigs of lovely grassy cilantro.

Serves 4, takes under an hour.

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