Start to finish: 1 hour / Servings: 4 to 6
This is our version of the fragrantly spiced, stew-like maftoul with chicken and chickpeas that we tasted in Galilee. Maftoul, sometimes referred to as Palestinian couscous, resembles pearl couscous in shape and size but is made with bulgur. It is difficult to source in the U.S., but pearl couscous is a good substitute. For this dish, we first simmer bone-in chicken parts in water with aromatics, then remove and chop the meat, reserving it to add at the end.
The broth that results from poaching the chicken is used to cook the couscous, so that its rich, full flavor permeates the dish. Cumin, cinnamon and nutmeg add earthy, warm, spicy notes, and a spoonful of pomegranate molasses brightens with its fruity tang.
Don’t use boneless, skinless chicken parts. Bones and skin give flavor and body to the poaching liquid, and since the liquid is used to cook the couscous, the added richness is good. And don’t worry if browned bits form on the bottom of the pot as you cook the garlic and onion. These bits build flavor.
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, leg quarters or thighs
2 large or 3 medium yellow onions, chopped
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup pearl couscous
15½-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses, plus more to serve
1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1. In a large saucepan, combine 5 cups water, the chicken, 1 cup of the chopped onions,onions, the bay and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to low, cover and cook at a bare simmer until the thickest part of the chicken reaches 160°F for breasts or 175°F for legs/thighs, 20 to 30 minutes; flip the pieces once about halfway through.
2. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a large plate and let cool. Strain enough of the cooking liquid through a fine mesh strainer to yield 4 cups; discard the remainder or reserve for another use. Remove the meat from the bones, discarding the skin and bones; chop the meat into bite-size pieces.
3. In the same pan over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the remaining onions and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the 4 cups chicken-cooking liquid and bring to a boil. Stir in the couscous, then cover, reduce to medium-low and cook until tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
4. Remove the pan from the heat, then stir in the chopped chicken, chickpeas, pomegranate molasses and half the parsley. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with additional pomegranate molasses and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.