Toasted Garlic Couscous with Preserved Lemon

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There’s something thrilling about inventing a recipe. And though I’m not 100% sure that I invented this (it may very well have existed, somewhere, before me) let’s pretend that I am to this recipe what Isaac Newton is to gravity. No apple fell on my head, but garlic toasted in my head as I tried to figure out something new and different to do with couscous. Here’s how it all works.

In a pot, add a big splash of olive oil and several slivered cloves of garlic.

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Turn up the heat and toast the garlic. When I say “toast” I mean: let it get dark brown. Not burnt, though, because then your couscous will taste rancid.

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Take it as far as you can and when you start to get nervous, add a box of plain couscous, stirring all around to coat with the toasted garlic-infused oil.

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Lesser cooks might ad their liquid right away at this point but not me. I decided to toast the couscous for a few minutes the way that I’ve toasted oatmeal in the past. This results in a more pronounced couscous flavor, something you might describe as “nutty.” When the couscous begins to change color–turning golden brown–it’s time to add the liquid. I added water (based on package directions) but chicken stock would be terrific here.

Be prepared: it’ll sizzle because that couscous is hot hot hot. Add a big pinch of salt, turn off the heat, cover and wait a few minutes. Before you know it you’ll have toasted garlic couscous which you can fluff with a fork.

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If you taste it here you will be impressed but you will also be slightly underwhelmed: yes you taste the toasted garlic and the toasted couscous but it still needs some help. So add some chopped up preserved lemon, a big splash of olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and black pepper.

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Stir that in to taste and then add chopped parsley or cilantro.

At this point you can stop and enjoy the fruits of your labor but couscous needs a protein to go with it so I bought a fancy chicken from McCall’s–a Kendor farms chicken–which I roasted with salt and pepper in a cast iron skillet in a hot oven.

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Then, in that skillet, I made a lemon butter sauce like the one I made in this post. Look at this turbulent sea of chickeny lemony buttery fabulousness.

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Cut up your chicken, spoon up your couscous and then pour that sauce over everything.

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It’s a dinner to write home about. Like you might actually get a pen and paper and write a letter to your parents about how good this dinner was. And, when you really think about it, it’s a greater contribution to society than the theory of gravity. Isaac Newton: 0. Me: 1.

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