Inspiring Dinner Party Solutions: Delicious Roast Chicken Couscous with Fresh Herbs and Pomegranate

Introducing Part 1 of my ‘Inspiring Dinner Party Solutions’; Delicious Roast Chicken Couscous with Fresh Herbs and Pomegranate♥ I feel compelled to introduce this mini series of simple yet impressive dishes after a succession of dinner party blunders last weekend! I was throwing a reunion dinner for four of my oldest and dearest friends from school, girls that would have been entirely satisfied with no food whatsoever as long as the wine and bubbly flowed from the kitchen like the source of the Rio Grande! In an effort to test my culinary ability, I choose delectable yet laborious dishes that contained too many elements and demanded far too much time and precision. Most of the day was spent toiling in the kitchen rolling pasta to a wafer thin consistency and whipping egg whites into stiff white peaks while still making tea and conversations! I was frazzled from beginning to end; not good if you’re the host.

I’m hoping to conspire against traditional dinner party tedium and create recipes that are simple and impressive, clean and brilliant and most importantly; won’t give the chef an aneurism before service! My Delicious Roast Chicken Couscous with Fresh Herbs and Pomegranate is versatile, may be served as a starter or a main, is full of flavor and texture, tastes sweet and exotic, and most importantly, is quick to prepare. It is guaranteed to satisfy the family, impress the guests and not retain the chef in the kitchen for anymore then 40 minutes!

If you’ve never tried couscous before then I highly recommend trying this recipe. Couscous is made of crushed durum wheat semolina and is among the healthiest grain-based products in the world. Originally found in North Africa, it is a staple food throughout AlgeriaMorocco and Tunisia and is fast becoming a popular alternative to pasta and rice in Western Europe. Its quick to prepare and extremely versatile, lending itself well to savory and sweet ingredients. The infusion of pomegranate juice and seeds in this recipe cut through the eastern spices with a sweet explosion, which compliment the fresh mint, parsley and coriander beautifully.

Couscous its a nutritious grain, containing twice as much riboflavinniacinvitamin B6, and folate as pasta and four times as much thiamine and pantothenic acid. Unfortunately it has a relatively high Glycemic load compared to quinoa and brown basmati rice, but by adding walnuts to the recipe I have actually reduce the GI of the entire dish; very clever!
My new kitchen etiquette demands food that is simple and its preparation fast, this dish covers both; Dig in folk’s xx
 

Recipe creation: Caroline Murray
Food styling and photography: Caroline Murray
Prep/cooking time: 40 minutes

Serves: 4

 Delicious Roast Chicken Couscous with Fresh Herbs and Pomegranate

Ingredients

Preparation
  1. Dry fry the coriander, cumin and peppercorn in a pan for 2 minutes or until toasted.
  2. Place in a pestle and mortar and grind to release the flavours.
  3. Add the ground seeds to the olive oil and lemon juice, season with a good pinch of salt.
  4. Rub the marinade all over the chicken breasts and leave to rest in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  6. Meanwhile, put the couscous in a bowl and pour over the hot stock. After 10 minutes or when the stock is fully absorbs, fluff up the couscous and leave to cool.
  7. Place the chicken in a preheated oven for 30 minutes.
  8. When the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and slice.
  9. Drizzle any remaining cooking juice from the roasting tin and onto the couscous and pile the chicken on top.
  10. Add the walnuts and mixed herbs.
  11. Half the pomegranate and squeeze the juice and the seeds onto the couscous
  12. drizzle with a little olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and serve.

Related articles

Homage to Pure Sushi…..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It may have been too many afternoons spent at farmers market, or simply too much time spent looking for a decent lunch that propelled the girls from Pure Sushi out of their latte drinking stupor and into the epicentre of gastronomic Ireland.

The girls behind Pure are Madeleine Murray and Maire Carney, together they have managed to create an artisan food product that not only tastes gorgeous but also challenges the Irish palate in a most unrelenting and surprising way.

True to their vision, the sushi they create has a distinctive ‘Irish twist’. They pride themselves on supporting local food producers in the south-west by only using products made in Co. Cork and organic where possible.

This dedication to sustainability and local industry meant veering away from the recognised Japanese style of sushi making, most famous for it’s raw fish and tempura and into something far more challenging and original.

Their combinations are evidence of their good taste and culinary experience; combining melt in the mouth buffalo mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes may seem predictable but when added to vinegared rice and wrapped in strips of nori seaweed to create what is traditionally known as a maki roll is something far more inspiring!

Their producers include Joseph, from Orchard Cottage Farm who supplies them with his creamy goats cheese and who also runs a stall at Mahon Point Farmers Market in Cork. Anthony from Ummera Smokehouse, who provides their famous smoked silver hill duck which won a Gold at the 2010 Great Taste Award, The Good Fish Company in Kinsale, who supply some of their wonderful smoked and fresh fish and Toby, from Real Olive Company who provides them with mozzarella from his own herd of buffalo in Cork!

Their repertoire also includes Roscarbery Black Pudding, from Caherbeg Free Range Pork. This delicate and flavourful pudding has been creatively combined with apple and rape seed oil dressing, earning them much notoriety in the artisan food community. Madeleine believes that this combination is ‘the hook’; people who are curious about sushi, but would rather eat a blue steak then a piece of sashimi tend to go for this and then gradually move onto something more experimental like the crabmeat, grated carrot and sesame oil or the raw salmon with sweet chilli sauce.

Its been hard work and their success story is still unfinished, but with the support of the Cork people behind them and plans of nationwide distribution in 2012- you can be sure you’ll see them around.

♥ Sushi as a Superfood

Before I go on to the recipes, I have to address the health benefits of eating sushi. It is a power house of nutritional gold, supporting the body in numerous ways to enhance vitality and reduce symptoms of disease and disharmony.

The dried sea vegetable, or nori, which is used to wrap the rice, contains an abundance of minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron and iodine which is instrumental in its effects on the hormonal function in the body. Nori also boasts antioxidant phytonutrients and folic acid which are essential for expectant mothers preparing for the birth of their child.

Renowned for its high protein and low saturated fat content, sushi is highly recommended to anyone trying to lose weight or reduce cholesterol. This not only applies to combinations containing smoked and fresh fish, but also to vegetarian and vegan combinations. This may  be attributed to the japanese vinegar used in the rice preparation; it is reported that individuals who use rice vinegar frequently have a lower percentages of body fat and as the rice in this recipe contains at least 2 fl oz per 500g, you can be sure your making a dent in your cholesterol!

♥ Sushi Recipes

As It’s not my job to convince farmers from deepest darkest Leitrim that sushi is the bee’s knees, I can afford to be a little creative and incorporate some lesser known ingredients into the mix, one of those being Koya Matcha Green Tea. For some of you super healthy foodies, this may be a morning staple, (gold star). My advice to those of you who have never heard of nor tasted this green gold: run as fast as you can to your nearest health food store and purchase, this is the holy grail of green tea and  the most powerful antioxidant known to occur naturally in nature, Japanese samurai warriors were not drinking it in the 13th century just because it make their hair shiny!

As fusion is at the heart of Pure’s manifesto, it was important to incorporate some Irish grown vegetables into the recipe. Organic purple sprouting broccoli and beetroot are both very seasonal at the moment and as they’re growing in abundance in my own kitchen garden, I knew I had to give them a go. I’m also going to play around with Pure’s very popular buffalo mozzarella and sun-dried tomato recipe. Though the combination is a veggie favourite, the addition of my homemade pesto makes a meal out of a mouthful. Enjoy x

Recipe creation: Caroline Murray
Food styling and photography: Caroline Murray
Prep/cooking time: 2hrs
Makes 10 sushi rolls
Serves: 6

 
♥ Matcha green tea, purple sprouting broccoli, beetroot and goats cheese maki
Recipe makes 5 maki rolls
Ingredients:
  • 200g cooked sushi rice (see recipe above)
  • 4g, 1teasp of Koya Matcha Green Tea
  • 70g soft goats cheese
  • 5 stalks of purple sprouting broccoli
  • 2 raw or shop bought beetroot
  • 30g chopped hazel and walnuts
  • 30ml of olive oil
  • 10ml of honey

preparation:

  1. Add the Koya Matcha Green Tea to 20ml of hot water (not boiling) and stir until smooth.
  2. Pour the tea onto the rice and mix until the rice is marbled (do not over soak the rice, doing so will make it less glutinous and prevent it from sticking)
  3. To prepare the brocoli simply remove woody ends and trim or julian into very narrow stalks.
  4. Wash the beetroot and place in a preheated oven (180 degrees) for 30 minutes, let them cool and peel the skin off, slice into narrow wedges.
  5. Pulse or chop the nuts until fine and add them to the honey
  6. Mix the beetroot with the honey and nut mix
  7. Now your ready to lay your ingredients out and roll: refer to the point below ‘Direction for rolling sushi’. 
  8. The order in which you lay this recipe onto the rice is as follows; firstly smear  a narrow line of goats cheese across the rice, then add a thin layer of broccoli, followed by the beetroot.
 
 
♥ Buffalo mozzarella, sun-dried tomato and pesto maki
Recipe makes 5 maki rolls
Ingredients:
  • 200g cooked sushi rice (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 ball of Buffalo mozzarella
  • 100g of sun-dried tomatoes
  • 100g of basil pesto (see recipe below)

♥ My Homemade Pesto
Ingredients:

preparation:

  1. Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  2. Add the olive oil and blend again until smooth.
  3. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the grated parmesan cheese

Now your ready to lay your ingredients out and roll: refer to the point below ‘Direction for rolling sushi’. The order in which you lay this recipe onto the rice is as follows;  firstly smear 1 dessertsp of pesto across the rice, then break the mozzarella into small chunks and lay a narrow line across the pesto, followed by a small handful of sun-dried tomatoes.

 
 ♥ Directions for making 500g of sushi rice
 Ingredients:
  • 500g uncooked sushi or sticky rice
  • 600ml of water
  • 2 floz of rice wine vinegar
  • 2.5 teasp of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
preparation:
  1. Wash and rinse the rice thoroughly until the water runs clear.
  2. Place the rice and water into a medium saucepan and let it soak for 30minutes (this is referred to as ‘waking the rice’).
  3. Secure a lid onto the saucepan and bring the water to boil over a high heat, when it starts to boil, reduce to a low simmer and let it cook for 10minutes exactly.
  4. After 10minutes, without taking the lid off, turn the heat to full for 10seconds then right down again to a low simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, mix together the rice vinegar, sugar and salt in a small bowl.
  6. Put the cooked rice into a large mixing bowl; pour the vinegar sauce over the hot rice and mix well.
  7. Allow to cool completely before using in the sushi recipes.

TIP: I usually make my sushi rice the night before so it is ready to be rolled. Just make sure it is at room temperature and not cold. Sushi rice will keep in the fridge for 4 days

 Directions for rolling sushi
TIP: the more you add, the more difficult it will be to roll, less is more people, be frugal with your ingredients!
  1. Place the nori sheet, shiny side down, on the bamboo rolling mat. With water moistened hands, spread half a cup of sushi rice evenly over 2/3 of the nori sheet, pressing the rice down to create a thin even layer. 
  2. Arrange the sushi roll fillings in a narrow row across the top third of the sushi rice. NB: Leave a space of rice above and below the strip of toppings.
  3. Grasp the rolling mat with both hands and fold the close edge of the nori sheet so it overlaps the sushi rice and ingredients.
  4. Roll tightly with firm pressure using the rolling mat. 
  5. When you have reached the end, apply a little water along the inside end of the nori and roll again to seal
  6. Remove Sushi Roll from Mat
  7. Remove the sushi roll from the bamboo mat, and place the roll seam side down on a cutting board.
  8. To cut the sushi, moisten the knife in water, cut the nori rolls into six or eight equal pieces. (Cut the roll in half, then each half in thirds or forths.) Use a swift back and forth cut for best results.

Posted as part of the Groupon.ie blogging competition

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: