Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brick Chicken with Apricot Couscous

1 whole free-range chicken (3 pounds), split (see directions below or have butcher split chicken for you)

extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for spice mix:
2 T cumin seed
2 T whole coriander
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, juiced

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Ingredients for mint yogurt dressing:
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 bunch fresh mint leaves
2 green onions, green parts only
2 T honey
1 lemon, juiced
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

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Ingredients for apricot couscous:
extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, small dice
1/4 cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup whole almonds toasted, coarsely chopped
1 cup couscous
1 1/2 cups chicken stock, warm
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
2 scallions green parts only
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped plus leaves for garnish
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparing the spices:
Toast cumin, coriander and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over low heat until fragrant. In a clean spice grinder or coffee grinder, blend spices until fine. Add the toasted spices to a bowl with paprika and cayenne. Season with kosher salt. Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice.

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Preparing the chicken:
Prepare chicken by splitting it down the back and removing the backbone, breast bone and rib cage. Lay the chicken out flat and rub the blended spices all over. Marinate for up to 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Heat a large cast iron skillet (or other heavy oven-proof pan) over medium-high heat. When hot, add a 2 count of extra-virgin olive oil and place the chicken skin side down in the pan. Cover it with a second cast iron pan (you could also use a more traditional foil-wrapped brick) immediately so the skin doesn't have time to contract. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 15 minutes until chicken is golden brown and has a nice crust. Finish cooking in the oven for a further 20 to 25 minutes. Internal temperature between the leg and thigh should register 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, when cooked through.

Serve with Mint Yogurt Dressing and Apricot Couscous.

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Preparing the mint yogurt dressing:
Combine yogurt, cilantro, mint, green onions, honey, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper, to taste, in a blender. Blend until mixture is fully combined and has a smooth consistency.

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Preparing the apricot couscous:
In a medium saucepan add a 2 count of extra virgin olive oil. Add the red onion, apricots and almonds and saute gently over low heat until translucent and slightly fragrant. Add the couscous then dump in the warm chicken broth. Stir with a fork to combine, add lemon zest and cover. Let sit for 10 minutes, then uncover and add the scallions, mint, and cilantro. Fluff again with a fork. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.

Serve family-style on a large platter and garnish with fresh cilantro.

Serves 4 to 6


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