Mixing the Lebanese couscous with chickpeas and pearl onions and serving it with chunks of chicken and spiced sauce is the traditional way to serve this delicious Lebanese dish. Here I’m adding lamb, as is done in the more festive versions of the dish.
You can get Lebanese couscous, also known as Moughrabieh or Maftoul, in many Middle Eastern markets, at Williams-Sonoma and online.
2 lb. split chicken breast
1 pound lamb shoulder
6 cups of water
4 stalks celery, cut into 2” long sections
2 carrots, cut into 1” long sections
1 yellow onion cut to 4 quarters
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 teaspoon anise seed
1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
1/8 teaspoon allspice
2 cups Lebanese couscous
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 can cooked chickpeas
1 lb. frozen pearl onions, thawed
1. Start by preparing the meat and the broth; In a large pot cover the lamb and chicken with 6 cups of water. Bring to boil, skim the foam, and add the celery, carrots and onion. Bring back to boil, lower the heat, and add the cinnamon stick, anise and just a pinch of the ground caraway and allspice. Cover and cook for 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
2. In the meantime cook the Lebanese couscous in salted boiling water for 5 minutes, drain and wash under cold water. The couscous will not be fully cooked yet.
3. Transfer the lamb, chicken and the vegetables to a tray. Remove the skins and bones from the chicken and slice to serving portions. Add the rest of the caraway and allspice, and the ground cinnamon and keep the broth on low heat.
4. In a large non-stick frying pan or a pot heat the oil over medium heat and add the Lebanese couscous, fry for a couple of minutes while stirring, then add 4 cups of the meat broth, lower the heat and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring every few minutes to prevent it from sticking to the bottom. The couscous will not necessarily absorb all the broth. Make sure you stop cooking as soon as the couscous is al dente, cooked enough but not mushy.
5. While the couscous is cooking add the chickpeas and pearl onions to the rest of the broth, bring to boil over high heat, lower to low and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.
6. Strain about 3/4 of the chickpeas and pearl onions and mix with the Lebanese couscous. Serve with the pieces of chicken and lamb on top and the broth with the chickpeas and pearl onions as sauce on the side.
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