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:
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.
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.
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!