Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mediterranean Chicken & Couscous

I almost never follow a recipe exactly. I love to experiment and alter. I like the structure a recipe gives, but you should never feel constricted by it. (Except in baking... There are some things in baking that have to be exact.) Anyway, this is an original recipe and hopefully remembered correctly ;) Make sure you get hungarian paprika. I can't vouch for how it'll taste with any other kind!


1 whole garlic bulb
1 lemon, zested and juiced
olive oil
3-4 chicken breasts
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp hungarian paprika (every paprika tastes different)
1/2 tsp ground thyme
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cups chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 375. Place the bulb of garlic on a small pan and roast for about 30 minutes, or until soft. Remove from oven and let cool.

Once cool, slice the top off of the bulb and squeeze the garlic into a food processor with the lemon zest and juice, cumin, red pepper flakes, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Add a little olive oil and puree into a loose paste. Massage onto chicken and let sit at least 1 hour. (If you don't have a food processor, just put everything into a bowl and mash with a spoon.)

Once chicken has marinated, coat a skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat and brown the chicken on all sides. Remove the chicken to a plate, drain the fat (make sure you don't scrape all the crusty stuff out) and add the celery and onions. Season with salt, to taste, and red pepper flakes and sautee for 4-5 minutes until they start to brown. Deglaze the pan with chicken stock and make sure you scrape up all the crud that sticks to the bottom.

** Cooking Tip**
Deglazing is a spectacular trick to making a great sauce. When you brown meat or sautee things on a high heat, you'll usually get some nice brown, crusty stuff that sticks to the bottom (brown, not black and burnt ;)). While still on the heat, if you add liquid to the pan and stir it around, scraping the bottom, you'll get all of that stuff off and be able to incorporate that into a yummy sauce. Also a really great tip for cleaning your pans. Just add water to it and scrape while it's still hot and even burnt stuff comes right off.

Stir in the tomato paste until blended and taste, adjust seasoning if needed. Add chicken to pan and add more chicken stock, if needed, to make sure there's a good amount of sauce. (You want the sauce to come about halfway up the chicken.) Bake in the oven for 15 minutes covered, then remove lid and roast another 5-10 uncovered.

**IMPORTANT NOTE- I cook with stainless steel pans that are oven-proof. If your skillet is NOT ovenproof, please make sure you transfer the chicken and sauce into an ovenproof dish and cover with foil.

Serve over couscous with a sauteed carrots and green beans. (Or without the couscous for low carb)

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