It's A Keeper: Leek-y Chicken and Couscous

I walked away from this meal, Leek-y Chicken and Couscous, feeling full and happy that I ate something healthy. In the magazine, she says this meal, like most of the meals in her new cookbook, "plays up one big flavor, so you won't need much from the store." If you have your Every Day Kitchen stocked up, all you would have to buy is couscous, chicken tenders, leeks and parsley. Even without having my Every Day Kitchen stocked, all I had to buy was leeks, parsley, and raisins. It was nice to be in and out of the store, so my first Express Lane Meals experience was a good one, even though I don't have the book yet (darn US postal service!).

Now, I have to admit that I was a little unsure about where to cut the tops of the leeks off, and I am still not sure if I did it right. However, the bonus with this meal is that it is so convenient to have a nice bottle of wine open to drink with dinner! Here is the recipe from From Every Day with Rachael Ray, April - May 2006, with my comments in brackets:

1 1/2 cups chicken broth [I used Kitchen Basics chicken stock]
1 tablespoon unsalted butter [Why unsalted? I don't get it but I still always use it when called for]
1/4 cup golden raisins (a couple of handfuls), chopped
1 1/2 cups plain couscous [I used the organic whole wheat kind and it turned out great]
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), 2 turns of the pan
1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, cut into bite-size pieces [Chicken breasts were on sale, so I used those instead of the tenders]
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 medium leeks or 1 large leek [When cutting the recipe in half, one medium leek was perfect]
1 cup dry white wine (eyeball it—about a third of a bottle) [As Rachael recommends, use a good bottle of wine because the flavor will concentrate when you cook with it. I used a Sonoma Chardonnay called La Crema.]
Flat-leaf parsley, chopped (about a handful)

1. Heat the chicken broth and the butter in a medium saucepan. (Use a pan with a tight-fitting lid.) When the broth boils, add the raisins and the couscous. Take the saucepan off the heat. Stir the couscous and place the lid on the pan. Let stand.
2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan. Add the chicken in a single layer, season with salt and pepper, and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 3 to 4 minutes. [The trick I learned from watching 30 Minute Meals is to put the chicken in as a single layer and don't touch it for at least a minute or two. This allows it to create a little caramelized crust and the chicken won't tear when you move it.]
3. While the chicken works, trim the tough tops and root ends from the leeks. Cut the remaining white and tender green parts in half lengthwise, then cut the leeks into 1-inch half-moons. Place the leeks in a colander and run cold water over them. Separate the layers to release the dirt and grit. Rinse the leeks well, then drain. [Be real careful - there's lots of nooks for dirt to hide in, so make sure you separate all the pieces.]
4. Stir the leeks into the chicken and wilt for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and let it cook down by half, 3 to 4 minutes. The leeks should be tender, with some bright green color, and the chicken should be cooked through.
5. Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the parsley. Spoon a bed of couscous onto dinner plates and top with the chicken and leeks.


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