Couscous Risotto


The name of this post sounds a bit strange, doesn’t it? I mean, couscous is couscous, and risotto is risotto, and they are completely different animals, so to speak. Well, back when I did a post on Lebanese couscous, my blogging friend Stefan, from Stefan Gourmet, suggested I make a risotto with it. Unfortunately I’d already used it all up.

However, I now have Israeli couscous on hand, and I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do. This Israeli couscous is about a third the size of the Lebanese, but has the same look – perfectly rounded balls like tapioca. And neither looks like traditional couscous, although they’re all made with wheat.

This is what the Israeli couscous looks like:


So I decided to make a risotto out of this couscous, and add smoked chicken to it for a hearty meal. Here’s what I did:

Smoked Chicken

First I used my sous vide machine to prepare the 4 chicken breasts – 3 hours at 135 degrees.


As soon as the time was up, I placed the breasts in my stove top smoker – it’s a Cameron’s*. I used about 2 tablespoons of hickory chips, and once everything started smoking, I timed 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, I removed the breasts to a cutting board to begin cooling. Then I cut the chicken into cubes and set them aside.


Of course, any way you want to prepare your chicken is fine, and it absolutely doesn’t has to be smoked for this dish. I just thought I’d do something a little different. Grilled chicken would be wonderful as well. I wouldn’t suggest poached, shredded or pulled chicken, however.

Couscous Risotto

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, diced
1 cup Israeli couscous
2 cups chicken broth
Handful of chopped parsley
1/2 cup heavy cream, approximately

Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté them for a few minutes.


Stir in the couscous and stir them in the oil for about one minute: each cous should be coated in oil after this step.


Over the course of about 45 minutes, add a little broth, about 1/4 cup at a time, and stir until absorbed by the couscous. I used the same procedure as I would using traditional rice for making a risotto. If you’ve never made one, here is a post of mine that details how to make a risotto.


Continue this process until the liquid is all gone. Stir in the parsley, then gradually add the cream over the next 15 minutes or so.


To serve, place some of the risotto in a shallow, pasta-type bowl, and top with some cubed smoked chicken. You can sprinkle everything with a little more chopped parsley, if you wish.


note: Traditional risotto is often made with wine and broth as the liquids. And certainly the use of cream is optional. Also, grated parmesan is of course delicious in risotto – I was just trying to simplify the flavors of this dish.

verdict: I think I’ll make this again! It’s as least as good as risotto, and the round couscous grains provide a fun texture.

* My stove top smoker is a Cameron’s, but unfortunately I just told someone in response to a comment that it is a Bradley’s. My Bradley’s is an outdoor smoker, and somehow that name stuck in my head. I don’t remember to whom I gave this erroneous information, but I apologize, and hope you are reading this. I really love my Cameron’s stove top smoker!

31 thoughts on “Couscous Risotto

  1. I have a Cameron too, and don’t use it nearly often enough! Well, right now my kitchen has horrible ventilation, but once we change a few things around, I’ll bring my stove top smoker to play.

    I love this type of couscous, to me a lot more flavorful than the regular one – I like the texture, and using it as risotto is a fantastic move!


  2. Hey, whadda ya know, your couscous came from the town next to my birth town. :-) The dish sounds great, Mimi. I’m a sucker for lemon & fresh peas in risotto so I’ll try this when peas are available in the next couple weeks. Thanks for sharing!


  3. I adore this recipe! I enjoy couscous even when it’s rather plain, and this is so much more creative. You have some wonderful kitchen equipment. I enjoy hearing how you prepared the chicken. I would love to regularly eat at your table. :-)


  4. This is such a great idea! Seems like it would be so much less finicky than a classic risotto. Not to mention that I just love the texture of Israeli couscous. So glad to have found your site, Mimi!


  5. Mimi, thanks for the link and I’m glad that my suggestion seems to have worked out!
    Question about the chicken: did you smoke it at a low temperature? If I smoke chicken breast for 15 minutes, it will be cooked through and I won’t need to cook it sous-vide before. In fact, it would surely be overcooked.


      • Interesting – I guess you’re cooking and smoking the same time, which I do when I smoke salmon. But I use my stove-top smoker on the stove over one burner. I heat things just to get the smoke smoking, and then turn it way down. Then it smokes, but not with so much heat. Do you have the same brand that I have? Camerons?


Please... write something!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s