North African Couscous

Here is a great way to hide in the kitchen, feed a lot of people, and get those people to talk to each other. Merry Christmas from me!

North African couscous is a dish served in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and…Paris! This is because of the large number of immigrants from North Africa in Paris. Restaurants that serve it are abundant, and here is an excellent article with more history and information:

The following is a simplified recipe with the most common ingredients; there is also a link to a more elaborate one in the Saveur article.

Season a pound each of boneless lamb shoulder or leg chopped into large pieces for stew and chicken thighs, and dredge in flour before browning in oil. Remove from pan, and saute a few chopped garlic cloves, celery stalks, and carrots, and one onion and turnip. Add a handful of golden raisins, a few tablespoons of tomato paste, a few cinnamon sticks, and a few bay leaves. Return lamb and chicken to pan, and include a cup of dried chickpeas that have soaked overnight (or you can use canned later in the recipe); pour in enough chicken stock to immerse all, bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, until meat and chickpeas are tender (a few hours).

Add a sliced zucchini; a tablespoon of harissa, a North African hot pepper paste; and a few cans of chickpeas, drained (if using). Simmer for about ten minutes.

Boil three cups of water with a few tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt, and pour over two cups of couscous. When the water has been absorbed (in about ten minutes), stir with a fork. Use your fingers to further separate the grains.

While the stew is finishing and couscous is steaming, brown several merguez, a spicy lamb sausage, until done. This step is optional, as you may have trouble finding them.

To serve, spoon some couscous into a bowl, ladle over some stew, and stir in more harissa to taste. Place a sausage on top (if using).

Truc (Tip): See my post “Gluten-Free Goodies” for an appropriate and easy dessert for this meal.


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