It's a Keeper: Lemony Poppy Chicken with Couscous

We are big fans of couscous in our house, I think because our parents never gave it us when we were growing up. Maybe we aren't sick of it yet. Now, shake and bake and stove top stuffing? They will never be served in my house because my parents made me eat them all the time! But back to the couscous, when I saw Rachael Ray make Lemony Poppy Chicken with Sweet Pea and Mint Couscous on her talk show, I knew I had to try it.

I don't really like mint and I forgot to add the basil, so my couscous turned out a little differently that Rachael's, but it was outstanding. It was the perfect accompaniement to the tangy lemony poppy chicken. All of this was easy to make, although I think it took me about 40 minutes, but I was moving slow (it was a Saturday).

I also made some green beans by placing them in salted boiling water for about 3 minutes, then sauteeing them in EVOO with chopped garlic, salt and pepper. Don't think I made that up on my own, I'm not that good yet. I got the idea from my Food Network How to Boil Water cookbook. It has a great section all about veggies.

Here's the recipe with my comments in brackets:

2 1/2 cups chicken stock, divided
1 10-ounce box frozen peas
1 1/2 cups couscous [I use organic whole wheat couscous and can't tell the difference with the regular stuff.]
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1 cup flour
Salt and pepper
2 lemons zested, 1 juiced
1 1/2 - 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets, cut into bite-size pieces [Next time, I would buy the chicken tenders instead of the cutlets, since they are being cut into chunks.]
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
10 leaves of basil, chopped [Oops, forgot to add it]
10 leaves of mint, chopped [Left it out on purpose]

Place a medium-size saucepot over high heat and add 1 1/2 cups of the chicken stock. Bring to a boil then add the peas and the couscous. Place a lid on the pot and turn off the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. [Could that be any easier? You have to say that like Chandler Bing when you read it.]

While the stock is coming up to a boil for the couscous, place a large skillet over high heat with 3 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 3-4 tablespoons. While the skillet is heating up, place the flour on a plate. Toss the chicken in the flour to coat, shaking off any excess. Add the chicken pieces to the hot skillet. Season the chicken liberally with salt, pepper and the lemon zest, and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring every now and then to get them brown all over.

With a microplane or the smallest grade of a handheld box grater, grate in the garlic the last 2 minutes of cooking. [This is Rachael's new favorite trick. She grates the garlic instead of chopping it.]

Once the chicken has browned, add the remaining cup chicken stock to the skillet. Once the stock is hot, add the butter and poppy seeds.

Stir until the butter has melted and the sauce has thickened up a bit, about a minute. Turn off the heat and squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into the pan.

Remove the lid from the pot of couscous, add the basil and mint and fluff with a fork. Place a portion of couscous on a plate and top with the chicken.

PS - I'm home from Europe! I promise to share some pictures on Friday. It was a wonderful trip, but I am glad to be home.


  1. Mmm, love couscous, but haven't had it in ages. Maybe this weekend... perfect Spring food.

  2. Welcome home. Hope you had a fabulous trip.

  3. Cate - it certainly was! Peas = spring, right?

    Leigh - we did, thank you! It was overwhelming and wonderful all at the same time.


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