Thursday, February 25, 2010

Moroccan Spiced Chicken over Israeli Couscous

One thing I enjoy after a long day at work is a dinner that takes no time at all. Even better is an easy make ahead meal that requires very little prep time and babysitting on the stove. Our dinner tonight was exactly that - effortless and delicious.

A favorite make ahead meal is where I season meats such as chicken, pork, or even beef with a combination of spices and dry herbs, rub the seasonings in and let the meat absorb all the flavor overnight, a couple days or even under a deep freeze. The meat is left with so much flavor once it's cooked and I find that the flavor intensifies the longer it marinates with the seasonings. This is what I tend to do when there's a great sale of cuts of meat like chicken quarters.

Tonight, we enjoyed the following recipe. Using the spice mixture from a dish I found on Epicurious, I seasoned some chicken quarters last week and placed it in the freezer. This morning, I removed the chicken quarters from the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge so it would be ready to bake up when we got home from work. In no time, the chicken was done, just as quickly as it took for me prepare. I served this chicken with Israeli couscous with parsley and sun dried tomatoes (recipe follows).

Moroccan Spiced Chicken
recipe adapted from Epicurious

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika (not hot)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1-2 lbs chicken quarters

Combine the cumin, paprika, salt, black pepper and olive oil in a small bowl. Brush this mixture over the chicken quarters and place in a shallow baking dish; cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight. Alternately, you can place the chicken in a plastic storage bag and freeze until ready to prepare. When you're ready to prepare, thaw the chicken and continue with the cooking directions.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken in a baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until juices run clear.

Israeli Couscous with Parsley & Sundried Tomatoes
recipe adapted from Trader Joe's

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 1/2 cups Israeli Couscous
1/2 large cinnamon stick
1 dried bay leaf
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
zest of 1 lemon
3 sun-dried tomatoes, diced

Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until golden.

Add the couscous, cinnamon and bay leaf, and stir often until couscous browns slightly.

Add the broth, salt, and sun-dried tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender.

Remove from heat and stir in parsley and lemon zest. Serve warm.