Curried Chicken & Couscous…and the winter that won’t end!

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Sorry I’ve been away for awhile…priorities have gotten in the way of fun…work…taxes…family…cats…you know, LIFE!  🙂  I feel like we are drowning in snow, here in Minnesota.  We’ve had 6+ inches of snow this past week (to add to the two+ feet on the ground) and today we are under a Winter Storm Warning currently with another 3-5 inches of snow today…AND temperatures are diving back into the single digits. Hello January.

Oh & Wednesday, it’s the first day of Spring.  Yeah, so there’s that.

Anyhoo, today I bring you my version of Sautéed Chicken Breast with Apple Curry Sauce, via Caprial’s Cafe Favorites written by Caprial Pence.  One of the things I love about this dish, is that it’s super quick & easy, perfect on a busy weeknight!  I have had this cookbook forever…and oddly enough, only ever made two things out of it!  She’s got plenty of great looking recipes…I will have to give some of the others a chance.  You know you love a recipe, when you grab the cookbook to refresh your memory and the book falls open to that exact page because the binding has worn itself open there!  Not to much the splatter marks of dinners past.  This dish definitely ignited my love of curry, many years ago.

I thought we could first talk about curry, because for some of you, it might be a new spice to your cabinet!  I buy most of my spices from Penzey’s but found another great online source call The Spice House.

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On the page where they show their curry powders they say this:  Curry powder is a blend of many spices, and comes in almost infinite varieties.  Each curry powder can have different component spices, in differing amounts–making each curry blend unique.  In recent years, Ras El Hanout has become increasingly popular as a Mediterranean style curry. Garam Masala is a Northern Indian style sweet curry blend useful for many vegetarian Indian dishes, and is available in whole or ground forms. And try our newest curry blend, the French-influenced vadouvan curry, a mild yellow curry with grated shallots.  Maharajah curry powder, a sweet yellow with cardamom and whole threads of saffron in the blend–it’s curry fit for a king!  We also offer a Thai red curry, which is hotter with lemongrass and galangal.”  I definitely want to try the Thai red curry!

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The two most common versions of curry powder is yellow sweet (mild) or hot.  I have used both the sweet (mild) curry in this dish but this time, used Penzey’s Maharajah curry powder, with those little flecks of saffron, it really took this dish to new heights!

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This is a great dish to enjoy in late fall, as the apple orchards are humming with gorgeous apples & cider.  Or, in my case, in the throws of a winter that will never end…

I have always served this with couscous.  I feel like it’s just the perfect texture to absorb this sweet & savory sauce!  The original recipe calls for a boneless chicken breasts, but I used two bone-in chicken breasts. Caprial also mentioned this sauce would be just as delicious on pork or fish!  Chicken thighs would also be a wonderful option to try!  So let’s get cooking!

Curried Chicken & Couscous:

~ two bone-in (or boneless) chicken breasts

~1/2 cup heavy cream

~ 1/2 cup apple cider

~ 1/2 cup white wine

~ one granny smith apple, peeled & diced

~ 1 tablespoon (or more) curry powder (your choice)

~ two shallots (or 1/4 onion), chopped

~ two cloves of garlic, chopped

~ two teaspoons of fresh ginger, chopped

~ butter & olive oil

Can I just say a word here about chopped garlic & chopped ginger?  We always have three varieties of garlic in our house.  Granulated (powdered), fresh (jarred) chopped and fresh whole garlic.  We use the granulated for dry rubs or in the kids pasta (they don’t like the bite of actual garlic), the fresh whole, for roasting and recipes where I want the “bite” of garlic, and the fresh chopped for everything else.  People, don’t be afraid to buy the little jars of garlic & USE IT.  It’s quick & easy to add into just about anything.  We’ve always had granulated ginger on hand, for this recipe or that, but recently I bought a jar of the fresh chopped and boy, I am glad I did!  I LOVE ginger and now have been using it much more because of that cute little jar, just hanging out in my fridge, waiting for it’s next moment to liven up a dish!  Now, if I could just find shallots this way…

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Start by getting all ingredients gathered & prepped.  Take the chicken and drizzle a bit of olive oil on to them and then season with salt & pepper.  In a large sauté pan, on medium-high heat, brown off the chicken breasts on both sides.  Remove from pan and place into a baking dish.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and pop the chicken in.

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In the same sauté pan, turn medium-low heat, add the shallots (or onion) and ginger.  Then add the diced apple & garlic.  After a couple of minutes, add the wine & cider, deglazing the pan and reduce this to about half it’s original. While that is working, in another small sauté pan, add the curry over low-medium heat and dry sauté.  Do this until the aroma is given off, being careful not to burn it.  Add the curry powder to the apple mixture.  Then add the cream to this mixture and continue to cook until sauce thickens.  Set aside, keeping warm until the chicken & couscous has finished cooking.

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Cook your couscous according to package directions, but be sure to use stock instead of plain water.  It just makes it taste LOTS better.  (see mine even had bits of veggies in it!)

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Your chicken breasts will be done, when the internal temperature reaches 155-160 degrees, most likely after being in the oven for 35-45 minutes.  (do you have a meat thermometer?  You should if not…)  Be sure to let them rest before slicing into them, just like any other meat.

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I’ve been thinking about the ingredients in this dish.  I bet, it would be ridiculous with coconut milk instead of heavy cream…and can you imagine using the Thai red curry powder?!?!  Oh…and how about coconut rice instead of couscous?!?!  That might have to be another blog post!  🙂

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And last, I don’t ever do this, but that night, when we settled in to eat this dish, we drank this wine with it…….it was REALLY great with this dish!  It’s a relatively inexpensive Hogue Cabernet Sauvignon you can find at most liquor stores.  Nothing fancy, but it was a great pairing if I do say so myself!

Until next time friends…here’s hoping we finally get out from under all this SNOW!

Cheers!

Shawn

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5 thoughts on “Curried Chicken & Couscous…and the winter that won’t end!

    • Thank you Emily! Yes, I too love Penzey’s, especially visiting their store! I also wanted to say I am excited that I get to meet you tomorrow night at the NAMA event at Heartland! I saw your name on the list of other roundtable peeps 🙂

  1. Pingback: Baked Eggs with Lentils and Recipe Roundup - The Heavy Table - Minneapolis-St. Paul and Upper Midwest Food Magazine and Blog

  2. I just found your site while searching for recipes for Penzys Maharajah powder. I just thought I would let you know the Spice House is owned by the sister of the owner of Penzys. Their parents opened the first spice house in Milwaukee in the 50s. This family knows their spices! If you are ever in Milwaukee, the Spice House store on Old World Third St is a must. A cool old building with old fashioned weighing equipment and service. It is also across from Usingers, so get some awesome sausage while you are at it!

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