"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!

13.2.15

Slow Cooker Algerian Chicken Stew: Chicken Couscous #French Fridays with Dorie

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Slow Cooker Algerian Chicken Stew- simplelivingeating.com


I've never know anyone to have the same birthday as me except for the Algerian born French writer Albert Camus. His book "The Stranger" haunted me in high school.


When I was just out of high school my father had a massive heart attack and died. As I waited for the ambulance to come... the opening line of "The Stranger" came into my head. “Mother [father] died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can't be sure.” The meaning of this line struck me. I never understood how unstuck in time you become when a loved one dies. 

Because of my love for Camus I have always been mildly curious about Algeria and France's relationship with this country... it has been complex to say the least.


Slow Cooker Algerian Chicken Stew: simplelivingeating.com

I had never looked at Algeria's cuisine and when I read the original recipe: Chicken Couscous I thought that it's inspiration might be Algerian. When I looked up Algerian chicken stews it seems that my suspicious were pretty accurate. 

I decide to simplify this recipe by reducing the seasoning to just Harissa I bought a dried version of this spice mix. I used boneless, skinless chicken because to me if you aren't crisping the skin why bother with it at all. I kept the vegetables the same except I did not put in a leek. It just seemed too French. I served the stew over quinoa because I have a wheat allergy and can't have couscous.


Slow Cooker Algerian Chicken Stew: simplelivingeating.com

The stew was a big hit, everyone loved the Harissa flavoring. The chickpeas and raisins were an interesting touch that the whole family found rather exotic. It is amazing how you can use a different spice mix, and put together ingredients that you don't usually combine...and suddenly you are in a strange land, enjoying an entirely new cuisine. 


Slow Cooker Algerian Chicken Stew: Chicken Couscous

by Diane Balch at simplelivingeating.com Inspired by Dorie Greenspan's Chicken Couscous from Around my French Table
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 4 to 6 hours
Keywords: slow-cooker soup/stew entree gluten-free chicken African

Ingredients (4 to 6)
  • 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 3 celery stalks chopped
  • 3 carrots chopped
  • 2 small turnips chopped
  • 1 large zucchini chopped
  • 15 ounce can of chickpeas with liquid
  • 1/4 cup of golden raisins
  • 1 tablespoon of dried Harissa
  • 3/4 cup of chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup of melted unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Instructions
1) Whisk together: harissa, salt, pepper, butter. Then whisk in chicken broth. Set aside.
2) Layer in a large crockpot: onions, turnips, celery, carrots, raisins.
3) Sprinkle a little salt on the chicken put that on top of the vegetables.
4) On top of the chicken put the chickpeas and then the zucchini. Sprinkle a little salt on the zucchini.
5) Pour the spiced chicken broth over everything in the pot.
6) Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours.
Serve over couscous, quinoa, or mashed potatoes

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Note: As a member of French Friday's with Dorie I am not allowed to print the recipe. I invite you to take a look at this wonderful cookbook "Around My French Table" if you are interested in this or any other recipe I review. 


29 comments:

  1. Isn't it weird, strange, whatever, what you remember or what comes to mind during a crisis. Something you will never forget. The entire French-Algerian-DeGaulle history is interesting, terrible, controversial, and many other things. The Battle of Algiers has haunted me since I saw it ten years ago. On a happier note, I really, really liked this dish, especially the spices. I used every spice Dorie suggested but didn't use the Harissa. In fact I doubled down on Saffron. Yours looks very tasty and the fact that you made it in a slow cooker which had to simplify the process even more, is great.

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    1. I remember The Battle of Algiers.. it gave me an understanding of how resistance and terrorist organization operate... profound. Interesting on your choice of the saffron which I skipped because it is so light, I thought it would get lost. I was planning on putting it in the quinoa.. it would be fantastic in couscous too.

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  2. Dear Diane, Thank you for sharing. I too lost my father at a young age, and there are certain dishes that are very meaningful to me because they bring back memories of days spent with my father. This sounds wonderful...hearty and comforting. Happy Valentine's Day to you and your family. Wishing you a beautiful weekend ahead. Blessings, Catherine xo

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  3. Of course you tweaked this and made it a much easier dish! I tweaked the heck out of it so that Bill would eat it---will share it next week.

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    1. My kids have never been busier. Dinner time is rush hour in our house most nights... driving to fencing etc. I like having a crockpot ready to eat something healthy, so they can't say lets get pizza.

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  4. Love the colors in the photos, Diane! Just gorgeous. I also really liked your intro to the post: it's hard not to find Camus haunting and that particular memory of yours, and the way you wrote about it, will stick with me.

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    1. I hope it wasn't too disturbing. Literature can be so powerful. Camus has such an odd place in French culture. Do you know that his family refused to have his remains moved to the Panthéon because they feel he was always slightly removed from the French...always a bit of Stranger.

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  5. There are certain poems that will always run through my head when certain memories come to mind - Longfellow's "A Psalm of Life" and Rudyard Kipling's "If" have that effect on me. I must have learned these poems 30 years ago, but chunks of them pop up at just the right moment.
    Re: the birthday thing, I never met anyone with my birthday until my (now ex-) mother in law. That made for some weird years :-) After 2001, 9/11 took on a whole new meaning...
    I had a feeling you would crock pot this one - great decision!

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    1. I had a huge discussion with a group of friends who all have memories of mostly their fathers giving them the poem "If" I often hear in my head, "If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you But make allowance for their doubting too." good advice in that poem. 9/11...sorry.

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  6. This recipe reminds me of so many trips to Paris and the Algerian influence in a lot of the restaurants. I would probably have never tried any of these here in the states, but chalk one up for travel. We loved it, and a definite repeat.

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    1. A foreign land can definitely open you up to new food possibilities. My son is going to Japan this summer with the Boy Scouts I can't image what he will be eating there... talk about a foreign cuisine.

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  7. I haven't read "The Stranger" before but I do agree with that line... how weird but true. I love how much everyone is loving this dish this week!

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    1. A short easy read... highly recommend it, a classic social commentary that is still very relevant.

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  8. I agree with you about the chicken skin. I loved this one, but do wish I'd started with boneless skinless chicken. I skipped the harissa because I didn't have any or time to make any, but loved all the other flavors and vegetables. It's a good one. Hope you have a happy Valentine's Day.

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  9. Very touching post. Words of wisdom throughout, on various topics, including the concept of going skinless if not you are not crisping it. You made me chuckle about that one because my husband asked if we should go with skinless boneless and I said "no - let's follow the recipe" :)

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    1. I've never been much of a rule or recipe follower. If it doesn't make sense to me I don't do it. It has gotten me in a lot of trouble at times, but I must say next time, listen to your husband.

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  10. the recipe sounds amazing as always Diane. I have not read any Camus before, but it's interesting that a book that haunted you would come back at such a poignant time.

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    1. Thank you Adelina,
      Yes, it was odd to hear a book in my head... but not totally surprising because I did become an English teacher.

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  11. When people debate the value of literature, it's stories like yours that prove them wrong. There's so much resonance throughout our lives with the books that touch us.

    Your slow cooker version of this sounds terrific.

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    1. As a former English teacher it is so good to hear what you have to say about literature. I allows said when I was teaching, yes I am teaching how to read critically and write, but I am also exposing the kids to stories that help enlighten the human condition.

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  12. Thanks for sharing your family story. It must have been hard losing your Dad as a teenager. I like the changes you made to the recipe. I should have left the leek out, you're right too French. I didn't think this recipe had enough spice to it so maybe I am missing this Harissa ingredient.

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    1. Thank you Diane... it was a really hard time to loss my father. It made college time a lot less fun. I stayed at home for a while until my mother was more stable... but yes, the Harissa has a lot of spice, just what this dish needed... much more important than the other seasoning for giving it a genuine North African flavor.

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  13. Thank you for sharing such a touching story with your recipe. This dish sounds full of exciting flavours and is so pretty to look at. Thanks so much for sharing at Simple Supper Tuesday.

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  14. Dear Diane, the quinoa sounds like a very tasty alternative to the couscous. I have never used a harissa spice mix before - just know it in paste form, it is rather spicy but perhaps less so when used as a spice. Wonderful to read that your whole family enjoyed this - your version is perfect for a weeknight - which always seems to be so busy, no matter how much we hurry.
    Hope you are having a good week,
    Andrea

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    1. Thanks Andrea,
      I have discovered when reading about slow cooker cooking is that any spice is mellowed by low heat, so the harissa is not too strong when used in a crock pot.

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  15. Looks delicious, thanks for sharing with Hearth and soul blog hop, pinning.

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  16. Thank you for contributing to Motivation Monday!

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  17. Hi Diane,
    I just love the turnips in this recipe, it sure looks good! Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing your post with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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  18. I've never cooked with turnips, I must try it! Thank you so much for linking up at Tasty Tuesday! Your recipe has been pinned to the Tasty Tuesday Pinterest board! Please join us again this week!

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