Toasted Garlic Couscous with Preserved Lemon

May 29, 2013 | By | COMMENTS

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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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Categories: Recipes, Sides

  • Lola

    I bet it would be delicious to replace the preserved lemon with chopped cherries from the previous post. Mix things up a bit and keep it seasonal. Looks great with the lemon as well!

  • Janice

    Whoa! That’s what I’m making tonight. No preserved lemon but I have some dried cranberries.

  • Monica

    that looks AMAZING! Where can i get preserved lemons?

  • Adam Amateur Gourmet

    I got mine here in L.A. at a store called Cookbook in Echo Park. They should be available in Middle Eastern markets or you could always make them yourself (lots of recipes online).

  • Gareth

    for the love of god, put down the boxed couscous and make the switch to Israeli couscous (or at least fine bulgur).

  • Anonymous

    Wonderful cous-cous. I look forward to tomorrow evening and giving it a go. I will often use your same technique, but with well-browned onions and curry powder. Delicious.

  • monica

    thank you!!

  • Miss Kim

    I bet people LOVE coming over for dinner at your house. Fabulous post. It looks delish. I have been searching for more creative ways to make couscous since it’s one of the quick and easy meals to make for staff (family meal at the restaurant)..so thanks!

  • Kirk

    You can make your own preserved lemons by just letting them dry out. It works great as long as they are in a dry place.

  • Rachel Lester

    No wonder you need to run on a treadmill! : )

  • Rachel Lester

    Hi Gareth! What is Israeli couscous? Is it that enormous variety?

  • Anonymous

    Israeli couscous is actually pasta, raather than the grains of couscous.

  • tunie

    I’ve always wondered how they MAKE couscous – the grains…

  • http://www.ouichefnetwork.com Oui, Chef

    Preserved lemons are an absolute must for the pantry, and so easy to make. LOVE this dish!