In France they just call it Couscous (or occasionally Couscous Royale when it’s served with chicken drumsticks and merguez sausages along with the standard cuts of lamb). You can think of it as a vegetable-prominent, lamb and tomato stew served atop a copious bed of couscous grains, with harissa-spiked broth on the side.
I watched a handful of YouTube videos to familiarize myself with the dish, some in French, some in English in the French style, and some in English in the Moroccan style. One of my favorites fell into that third category, Couscous with Seven Vegetables / كسكس سبع خضار by Cooking with Alia.
With that research under my belt, combined with what I had on hand, what I was able to find at Trader Joe’s, and what Stephanie prefers (lamb 👎, chickpeas 👍), I cobbled together the following recipe.
For the couscous grains
- Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Couscous (FTW!)
For the chicken
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp Chinese 5-spice (because that’s what I had on hand, otherwise I would have used ras el hanout)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (because that’s my favorite cut of chicken)
Bone the thighs and save the bones for the stew below. Toss thighs in the spice mix. Roast at 375F until cooked to your liking, about 40-50 minutes. In the future, I’d also remove the skin (and roast separately as crispy chicken skin snacks)…or just get boneless, skinless thighs and skip using the bones in the stew.
For the stew
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large white onion, diced
- 1 knob of fresh ginger, finely diced, about 2 tbsp (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
- bones from the chicken thighs
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp Chinese 5-spice (or ras el hanout)
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 can (14.5 oz) of diced and fire roasted tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 heaping tbsp of tomato paste
- 4 cups of beef stock (I went with beef to compensate for the lack of lamb per Stephanie, but really any stock would do, or water)
- 4 cups water
- 2 turnips, peeled
- 4 carrots, peeled
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled
- 2 cans (15.5 oz) of chickpeas, drained
- 2 zucchinis
- harissa, to taste (or other hot sauce)
Watch some of the videos I linked to above to get a sense of how to prep the zucchinis, turnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes. You basically want large, uniformly-sized “spears” or quarters. In a large 8-quart pot over medium-high heat, cook the onion in the olive oil, adding the chicken bones, ginger, and spices after the onion begins to take on color. Continue cooking for a few more minutes, before adding the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, stock, and water. Simmer for 15 minutes, and then add the turnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Simmer for another 15 minutes before adding the chickpeas and zucchinis. If any of the vegetables are done sooner than the others (I found that the sweet potatoes started to disintegrate surprisingly fast), simply remove them to a plate while the others continue cooking. Simmer until all the vegetables are done. Remove the chicken bones and discard.
Put a scoop of couscous grains on each plate, drizzle with some of the broth (but don’t drown!), top with chicken, put one of each of the vegetable spears around the chicken, and “garnish” with chickpeas. In a separate small serving bowl, ladle some of the broth, optionally spiced with 1-2 teaspoons of harissa, for personalized “saucing” à table.