In this years-long journey to find a blog name that better encapsulates what “From James to Jamie” is all about – without the status quo of sounding like a blog about my transition to womanhood – I’ve contemplated many a name. The one that’s been on my mind lately, but that may have ruffle a feather or two (much like this chicken dish) is “Culinary Appropriation”.
In some ways, it perfectly fits what I like to do: find delicious food – regardless of origin – and create my own version of it. Sometimes that requires a few tweaks, or a blend of various recipes, and sometimes it’s something more original but inspired by a particular cuisine. The end result isn’t 100% authentic, but oftentimes it means that the ingredients are more accessible and the dish slightly less intimidating to throw together. I guess the other potential title I could have for the blog is “So Easy, An Untrained White Man Could Make It”, but it lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.
So I ask you – what do you think? I want to accurately describe what I’m doing here, while not making light of the negative connotations with appropriation, especially considering the climate we’re currently in. The world is full of delicious cuisines and I love being able to honour them by including my versions here…
But it’s too risqué, isn’t it? If you know one thing about me (besides the fact that I love food), it’s that I don’t like being risqué, that I avoid confrontation and uncomfortable issues like the plague.
Oh well. For now, posting this recipe may be the most risqué/controversial thing I’ll do for a while. Inspired by Moroccan cuisine, this dish is light, crisp, tasty, and 100% inauthentic (but it means you don’t need to own a tagine). It’s so inauthentic, I don’t even know how to name it other than by listing the main ingredients. That being said, it’s refreshing in both it’s taste and simplicity, and I highly recommend you try it.
Apple Chicken Couscous
- 500 g. boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
- 1 tsp. corriander
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
- 1 1/2 tsp. packed brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp. sea salt, plus extra to taste
- 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- lug of olive oil
- 2 cups boiling chicken broth
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 cups couscous
- 1 cup golden raisins or dried cranberries
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 2 apples, sliced about 2 millimeters thin and roughly chopped
- handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, zest and juice to taste
- Preheat your oven to 350° F.
- Mix together your ground spices (the corriander, cayenne, cumin, sea salt, black pepper and cinnamon) along with your brown sugar. Rub this onto the chicken, ensuring even coverage.
- Place a cast iron skillet over medium heat and add a lug of olive oil. Once hot, toss on the chicken to brown both sides. This should take about 1-2 minutes per side. Once the chicken is browned, toss in the oven for about 10 minutes. Once cooked through, remove from the oven and let rest.
- While the chicken is cooking, get working on the couscous. In a large Dutch oven, braiser, or tagine, melt down your butter over medium heat. Turn off the heat source, stir in your couscous, and then pour the chicken broth overtop, and give it a good stir.
- Allow the couscous to sit for 10 minutes covered, stirring occasionally.
- Season the couscous to taste with salt, then stir in the apples, raisins, almonds and cilantro. Add in the zest from the lemon, and half of its juices. Taste, and add additional lemon juice as desired.
- Shred the chicken and add to the couscous.