Spiced squash, chicken and couscous one-pot

Spiced squash, chicken and couscous one pot

Hot on the heels of the easy tuna melt pizza baguettes, this is based on another offering from BBC Good Food magazine, only this one was chosen by the Other Half. The choice was a bit of a curveball really, since he doesn’t like couscous, but I do, and since he was willing to give it a go, I kept schtum and got on with it. I assumed it was something about the taste, or perhaps lack thereof, that wasn’t appreciated, as couscous can be quite bland. Not that this is a bad thing per se, since a comfortingly plain pile of starch is often the ideal side to something that could be described as hearty, or spicy, or both, like this stew. And by all means, you could serve this with mashed potato, or plain rice, for me brown basmati, but whatever works for you.  

So if the plain-ness was the issue, this recipe might solve it, since the couscous is not steamed or soaked separately and then the stew ladled on, but is just added directly to the pot with the spiced chicken, vegetables and sauce and allowed to swell and get tender, absorbing the flavours of the dish. This was a real revelation to me – I had never thought about cooking the couscous like this before. Don’t know why, since really it’s like making a jambalaya with rice, which I have done countless times. Anyway, it was good, (although a little too lemon-y first time round, hence below suggesting you just add half of the lemon juice and taste before adding more) and we agreed the flavours were good. But he doesn’t want it again. Turns out it was the texture of the couscous that he doesn’t like. At least I tried, and I’d definitely make this again, either for myself to take to work for lunch over a few days, or for us both, minus the couscous and with alternative carbs.

Adapted from BBC Good Food August 2011

olive oil

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2 red onions, halved and then sliced

2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1cm dice

2 400g tins chopped tomatoes

zest and juice of a lemon

two good handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved

140g couscous

small handful of freshly chopped coriander

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large casserole or pan with a lid over a lowish heat. Add the chilli, garlic, spices and onions, give everything a good stir, and cook gently for around 10 minutes until the onions are soft and everything smells good, stirring every now and again. Add the chicken and brown it for a few minutes, and then add the cubed squash, giving everything another stir, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the tinned tomatoes, fill each tin half full with water, swill it around and add to the pan as well. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, put on the lid and let it simmer for 20 – 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the squash is just tender. Add the lemon zest, and half of the juice, stir in and check to see if it needs it before adding the other half. Season, stir through the cherry tomatoes and couscous, put the lid back on and turn off the heat. Leave the pan on the hob for 10 minutes. Once the couscous is done, stir through the coriander and serve.

Spiced squash, chicken and couscous one-pot

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