I love testing out new recipes but as I am normally just cooking for myself (being the introverted homebody that I am), I often have to forego certain recipes because there is no way I can reduce them to one person. Quite a few of the recipes on the Homesick Texan spring to mind, in particular Lisa Fain’s Carne Guisada. I did think about making this recipe but reducing it to serve 4 and freezing 3 serves but using my standard serving of meat of 125-150g, the original recipe is about 12 serves so significant reducing required to just get it down to 4. I guess they like big meals in Texas (well and lots of other places when I think what purports to be a standard serve at a lot of restaurants here in Australia and other places I have travelled). I find 125-150g is about the right sized serve of meat for me at my main meal and that is above what is recommended by people like the American Heart Association who say 85g is a standard serve.
I am getting better at picking meals that reduce well but sometimes I miss the mark. Meals with whole chicken breasts can be tricky as they are breeding chickens so big these days. A single chicken breast is normally at least 200g if not more at the organic chicken shop I go to. I have to chop them down anyway to get a healthier portion.
But every now and again I see a chicken recipe that uses whole pieces that I just have an overwhelming urge to make. This recipe for Moroccan chicken thighs with olives was one such recipe – it used chicken thighs which I personally don’t like – I don’t like the taste of the meat. I know thigh meat is supposed to be much tastier but I just can’t get on board. The recipe also used thighs with the skin on which again I don’t do for health reasons. I could cook skin on and then not eat the skin but then I find the chicken meat doesn’t suck up the flavours. But I thought the flavours sounded so good that I had to give it a try.
The first attempt I used a saucepan that was too big and the sauce almost completely evaporated. What was left was pretty tasty though. I gave it another try using a smaller saucepan and that was better but still not completely successful – not good enough to share with you.
At this point I was getting quite frustrated. I gave up on trying to make it work for one. I made it for me, Mum and Dad and that was pretty damn good but not much use for people looking to cook for one, unless you wanted to freeze it and I wasn’t sure how well it would freeze.
I filed the recipe away for a few days and got on with cooking other things. One of these other things was this recipe for Japanese chicken curry which used 1 inch cubes of chicken. It got me thinking about whether I could use the flavours in the original recipe to make a casserole using pieces of chicken breast and it turns out you can! I have modified the recipe so you get more sauce as well as I love a lot of sauce on my couscous. This also has the added benefit of cutting some of the cooking time.
I just love how this recipe turned out, the sauce has great deep flavours. I am really loving what turmeric does to the flavours of a dish and smoked paprika has been a long term favourite taste of mine. The olives add a hit of zing so everything doesn’t get too heavy. The meal is a bit time consuming, about an hour all up but it really is worth the effort.
And if you are not a big beer drinker, then why not put on some of this beer braised beanless chilli to cook. It is great to have in the freezer.
The dish also reminded me that I should eat more couscous. It is so easy to make and pretty low in calories. I do need to try out a few brands. The brand I used at Mum and Dad’s was much nicer than the one I have at home. I’ll have to get Mum to tell me the brand so I can share it with you.
- 1/2 tbs of olive oil
- 130g of skinless, boneless chicken breast, chopped into 1 inch square pieces
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 of a brown onion, diced
- 1 tsp of minced garlic (equal to one clove)
- 1 tsp of minced ginger
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp of ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp of turmeric
- 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper (adjust this depending on how spicy you like things. This is fairly spicy but not blow your mouth off hot)
- 1/3 cup of chicken stock + extra for couscous
- 2 tbs of beer (have someone on had to drink the rest of the bottle)
- 6-8 green olives without stone
- 1/3 cup of couscous
- coriander (cilantro) chopped for garnish
- Head the oil in a heavy based small saucepan over medium high heat. Make sure the saucepan isn't too big so that you keep the sauce you are going to make deep enough.
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper
- Add to the pot and cook for about 4-5 minutes making sure the pieces are all sealed
- Remove the chicken from the saucepan and set aside
- Reduce to heat to medium and add the onions. Cook onions for about 5 minutes until the onions are tender. If your stove is slow to cool and the onions are more fried don't worry, just stop cooking when they are nice and golden - the recipe will still taste great.
- Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
- Add in the cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne pepper.
- Stir to combine everything well.
- Add the chicken back to the pan and stir well so the chicken is evenly coated in the spice and onion mix.
- Add in the beer and chicken stock. If you have some lovely crispy brown bits on the bottom of your pan, use the beer and stock to deglaze the bottom of your pan so you don't lose all that flavour. You want the stock to cover about 3 quarters of the chicken which is why you need to use a small saucepan.
- Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
- Add the olives and cook for another ten minutes.
- While the sauce is cooking, make your couscous as per the instructions on the packet. But if your instructions say to use boiling water I would switch that for chicken stock for a bit more flavour.
- Pop the couscous in a bowl and add the chicken and sauce.