As a military family, we shop at the local base commissary. Every couple of months, they put out a magazine called Eat Well Live Better, and it usually includes a series of recipes and meal ideas for a featured military family. In the Winter 2017 edition that I picked up last week, I found that the solution to their meal challenge “One-pot meals for toddlers and adults” fit my own family perfectly. Moreover, the specific recipe I chose to try catered to foods everyone in my family enjoys: my son love couscous. My husband is a fan of how kale blends into dishes so seemlessly. I enjoy the Moroccan spice profile chosen by the author.
The original recipe can be found on page 18 of the magazine if you’re a military family. Or, right here if you aren’t: Chicken thighs with couscous and kale.
Unfortunately, our commissary didn’t have any Israeli or pearl couscous, which cooks differently from the instant stuff you find in most grocery store (and is different still from traditional couscous that is steam cooked); this was the beginning of my troubles with the recipe. I decided to use instant couscous and ,while finishing my shopping, resolved to add it in the last few minutes of cooking. Unfortunately, my pregnancy brain kicked in a few days later when I was cooking and I followed the instructions for the Israeli couscous. That meant my couscous didn’t toast but burned to the bottom of my skillet. It was also ready well before the chicken thighs were actually cooked. On top of that, our TV wasn’t working properly, so my two-year-old son was whining because he couldn’t watch his new favorite cartoon while I made dinner (our usual sanity-saving ritual).
With a little teamwork from my husband, who took a break from his workout to fix the TV and get our son calmed down, and a little quick thinking from the chef (add more broth to keep the couscous moist; pick out the chicken, cut into small pieces, and cook in a second skillet) dinner was salvageable, but I don’t know that any of us enjoyed it like we should have. Although I enjoyed the flavor (I recommend using only 1 teaspoon each of the thyme and cumin and adding an extra clove of garlic for a more balanced flavor), I couldn’t stop thinking about the mess I’d made for myself to clean up in the kitchen. My husband was disappointed we were having couscous. My son was just grumpy. All in all, we just had one of those nights.
That said, I’d like to try this recipe again with either the proper couscous or a fully functioning brain that will remind me about the tweaks I need to make when substuting ingredients. Hopefully my fiasco (or any of your own) doesn’t keep you from trying a tasty new recipe this week!