Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I love cous-cous

Seriously. I love it.

It's sort of a 'signature dish' in our house. My fiancé Nate and I have been playing with and perfecting our cous-cous for nearly three years now, and we're still not sick of it. (Nate and I noodle around in the kitchen together a lot. I'll always give him credit here if we teamwork an awesome meal together. :) Here's me stirring a big pot of cous-cous while Amanda threatens my drooling dog, Phydeaux.

The reason we can eat cous-cous for three years and not get sick of it is that it's so darn versatile. You can put whatever you want into it! It's a great vegetarian dish, and it works well as the main dish or on the side. Nate and I have come up with a pretty standard preparation that'll feed the two of us and leave leftovers:

I set the cous-cous (~2 cups uncooked) a-cooking according to the directions: 1 cup water to 1 cup cous-cous. I add butter and olive oil (~1 tblsp each for each cup of cous-cous). I buy it in a plastic container thing because we use it so much, but if you're just cooking for one, the boxes of seasoned cous-cous work well (but is only about 1 cup of cous-cous). I love the one with the little bits of dried broccoli in it.

I season my cous-cous with Tony's, which is, like, the most important thing in my kitchen. You can put in on anything and everything. I never use salt. I always use Tony's. I always keep a back-up. Get used to it!

I also am in charge of fresh herbs. Julienned basil rocks in cous-cous; when I don't have it, dried basil suffices. Fresh garlic is good, but I often forego it and cut corners by seasoned the cous-cous with garlic powder. Then I open, drain and rinse a can of kidney beans, usually dark red - or whatever's in the pantry. No need to cook them.

Nate chops the purple onion (~1/2-1), tomato (~2-3) and cucumber (~2). Nate prefers the cucumber skin on, but I prefer it off since it's sometimes too bitter, so I peel them and scrape out the seeds with a spoon - otherwise things get too soggy.

While Nate is finishing chopping, I fluff the cous-cous and start folding in the goodness. Lastly, lemon juice (~1/2 a lemon) is squeezed on it all and mixed in.

So that's the basics. But - the thing that will make your cous-cous taste the awesomest is bacon (~3 strips), cooked and crumbled into tiny tiny bits. You don't need much. It's not about the bacon; it's about the subtle taste of the bacon in your cous-cous.

Cous-cous itself has a very delicious flavor, but a simple one. I try not to junk up the cous-cous too much, preferring to add ingredients that complement the cous-cous instead of using it as a backdrop.

Other favorite ingredients include: nuts (walnuts or pine nuts especially, in small pieces), spinach (julienned), chicken (seasoned, cooked and diced), dressing (ranch and italian both work, but use sparingly). If you don't like basil, I've also used rosemary and oregano on separate occasions (but I like basil best).

For advanced adventurers:

An extended use of cous-cous is one of my favorites: cous-cous stuffed chicken breasts. Simple, too.

I've found that there are two keys to stuffing chicken breasts with anything. Firstly, pound them out so that they're big and flat, so you have enough to work with. I try to only use free-range, antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken breasts, which tend to be larger and thicker than other yuckier, meaner chicken breasts.

Secondly, use a whole bunch of toothpicks. I take an end, make a little pouch and toothpick the crap out of it. Then you can stuff it really full -- go on, cram it in there. When your end pouch is full, I stitch the chicken into a tube with more toothpicks, then stuff some more. Just make sure you can close it off.

These are easy and great because I just put 'em right on the Foreman grill. Season the outside, pop them on for a few minutes and you're good to go. Delicious.

Here's Nate enjoying. =]

Be prepared for more awesome cous-cous posts. Seriously -- awesome.

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