The other day I made couscous, and decided to kinda document the process... here it goes:
First, and in honor of gungaSim, the music!
Now the STAR of the dish, which sports the same name as the dish itself, "couscous". If you don't get this right, nothing else is going to matter. Even though couscous is not a grain per se, we typically call it "the grain" to avoid confusion. Soak the grain in cold water and immediately drain it, then let it rest in a dish so it absorbs the water and creates a "cake":
Meanwhile let's look at what we've got to work with... some lamb neck bones for the broth and a couple of slices of lamb shoulder, bones for the broth, meat for skewers!
And a very nice local free range chicken from the farmer's market, begging to be cut up in pieces, just begging...
... and after a few minutes, meat is cut up and S & P have been generously applied on all sides:
Let's start slowly browning the lamb neck and shoulder bones, chicken back bones, neck and wing tips in GOOD BUTTER (don't get the cheap stuff) and with some turmeric. All the meat needs to be browned that way, then reserved in a plate.
Now let's have a look at our veggies: those carrots from the farmer's market actually taste... like carrots! Can you believe that? Supermarket carrots must be sooo jealous right now. We'll use the cilantro sprigs for the broth, the leaves can be reserved for something else.
The cilantro gets a haircut:
The veggies get a cut job (keep big pieces) and the zucchini get the full spa treatment. Leave the skin on the squash, it's the best part!
Let's prepare the spices: it's not the time to be stingy with the saffron. A nice cinnamon stick, bit of cumin if you'd like, some ginger, bit of sweet paprika, some ras al hanout and a spice mix I have...
Chickpeas! Can't make couscous without chickpeas. Those are dried and will be pressure cooked for 40mn:
Back to the pot: all meat was browned, removed and reserved. Time to deglaze all that wonderful stuff at the bottom of your pot!! We'll use the onions and bell peppers for that. Add a coulpe of whole garlic cloves while you're at it.
Aaaah.. much better! Get ready for everybody in the house to start noticing the incredible aromas.
Now add all your meat:
Then cold water (cold, because our main concern is with making the broth taste incredible), the cilantro, and let simmer for a while to make the broth:
While your broth is infusing, let's go back to our grain. Add S & P to the grain then pour a bit of olive oil in your hands and start delicately breaking up the clumps... this is the labor of love. You want every single grain to be separated to "aerate" the grain:
Much easier to do with two hands - but here one was busy taking the picture. ;) Here most clumps are gone and I'm about ready to steam the grain on top of the broth.
Pour the grain in the top part of the couscoussier and steam while the broth is simmering.
The grain will need to steam for a while. Then you pour it back into the dish and pour a glass of cold water on top and let it absorb the water. Then S & P again, olive oil on your hand and breaking up clumps again, steam again, and repeat the whole thing one more time.
You will be adding veggies to the broth depending on the time they take to cook....:
Ok by now the grain is ready to serve:
The broth, meats and veggies are done!
The lamb shoulder meat was defatted, cubed and marinated in olive oil and lemon, then skewered and grilled:
And for those who like a bit of heat.... a couple of options (sambal oelek would work really well here too):