Do you ever make cous cous with chicken? We have a hunch this might become a recipe that you will keep in rotation. Couscous with chicken is ready in less than 30 minutes, making it the kind of easy dinner weeknights need. This easy yet elegant chicken and couscous dish relies on just one 10-inch skillet to cook the chicken, sauté the aromatics, and simmer the couscous.
Cous Cous 101
When you think of cous cous what comes to mind? First off, cous cous is not a whole grain. Cous cous is made out of semolina, just like pasta. That also means that cous cous is not gluten-free. Sometimes you can find a whole wheat version of cous cous too. And, it’s important when reading a recipe to see what kind of cous cous is mentioned in the ingredients list because the two sizes of cous cous cook differently. You’ll find a larger pearled cous cous available that’s labeled as Pearl Cous Cous or Israeli-style cous cous. It’s cooked similarly to pasta. Then there is the quick-cooking cous cous that resembles tiny little pearls and is used in the recipe below that is simple to prepare—you boil liquid, stir in the cous cous off-heat, and keep the saucepan covered letting the residual heat and steam cook the cous cous. This finer-“grained” cous cous is what you will most likely find more regularly on grocery store shelves and bulk bins.
One-Pot is All You’ve Got to Think about
Cooking the chicken first meant we were able to capitalize on the flavorful browned bits, or fond, left behind to infuse the couscous with deep, savory flavor. And since couscous cooks so quickly, it came together in a flash while the chicken rested.
Boosting Flavor: Add Aromatics
Tempering the oil with shallot and cooking until translucent is the first flavor-building step for the cous cous recipe below. Then, when the cous cous is added, garam masala is stirred in at the same time so the spice infuses deeply into the tiny sand-like pearls. That’s it!
Crunchy smoked almonds team up with Sun-Maid or Orchard Choice California Golden Dried Figs to add texture and savory depth. The smoky flavor contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the figs and added an unexpected twist to this simple cous cous with chicken dinner.
Chicken + Couscous with Figs + Smoked Almonds
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 (6-8 ounces) boneless skinless chicken breasts , trimmed and pounded if necessary
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 shallot , minced
- 1/2 cup couscous
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- 3/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 cup Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid California Mission Figs , stemmed and cut into ¼-inch pieces
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped smoked almonds
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
- Spread flour in shallow dish. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Working with 1 breast at a time, dredge breasts in flour.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Lay chicken in skillet and cook until well browned on first side, 6 to 8 minutes. Flip chicken, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until chicken registers 160 degrees, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to serving platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil.
- Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add shallot and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in couscous and garam masala and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth and figs, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to brief simmer, then remove from heat, cover, and let sit until liquid is absorbed and grains are tender, about 3 minutes.
- Uncover and fluff grains with fork. Stir in almonds and parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve chicken with couscous.