Welcome to The 195: The Cooking Edition where Galavante Founder Christine Drinan cooks recipes from all 195 countries while traveling the world. Today’s episode is inspired by Christine’s trip to Algeria, where she was clued in to the best couscous recipe in the world. We share our cooking tips on making an authentic couscous that is so savory, light and fluffy that this meal will become an instant favorite in your home.
Ok, we need to have a talk. You’ve been making couscous all wrong. We did too — until we went to Tunisia, and had couscous that was very nearly life-changing. So much so that now, we devote two-plus hours on some Sundays to make real couscous. Worth it, because this is a dish that, when properly prepared, almost melts in your mouth. Welcome to the best couscous recipe ever.
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2 cups fine couscous*
1 bulb fennel
1 large onion, quartered
2 carrots, chopped
1 large orange
12 stems parsley
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
6 cups water
Baleine sea salt
Maldon sea salt
1 1/2 sticks butter
Word to the wise: Don’t buy instant couscous. To make the best couscous recipe, you need the real thing. Most of the couscous on the market is pre-cooked. You’ll need to go to a specialty store or order from Amazon for this recipe. Dalia is an authentic brand with a fine couscous grain option. The finer the couscous, the lighter and fluffier it will be.
The best couscous recipe requires a bit of a commitment. It will take about 1 1/2 hours to two hours, depending on your quantity. Know that couscous is a labor of love for which you’ll be rewarded handsomely in the end. While you’re making the couscous, you can also prepare chicken or whatever you decide to serve with it. Or you can just serve it on its own; this recipe for the best couscous is just that good.
Note that the vegetables, fruit and onions will be used in the steaming liquid. This means you can really throw in the odds and ends of vegetables and fruit that may not be the most fresh to eat. Whatever you choose for the steaming broth will add beautifully complex flavors to the couscous.
Make a Sunday of It
We like to make the best couscous recipe on Sundays, as we catch up on work and errands around the home. It’s as meditative as roasting chicken.
Know that you are not going to boil your couscous. Instead, you need to steam it. There is a special pot called a couscoussier. It’s as cool as it sounds; the traditional couscoussier is a large pot that has a steamer on top with a lid. However, you will never need to use the lid for the couscous. Save that lid if you want to use this special steamer for vegetables.
It’s Time to Make the Couscous
Roughly chop all your vegetables, fruit and onions and place it in six cups of water in the bottom part of the couscoussier. Add in salt and bring to a boil. Place the steamer on top of the boiling water, and add the dry couscous. In the chicken broth, add about 1 tablespoon of the sea salt, then pour over the dry couscous. Make sure to moisten all of the couscous, so that it steams properly. Reduce heat to about medium, and steam for about 45 minutes, fluffing the couscous occasionally.
Roll Out Your Couscous
At 45 minutes, take the couscous and spread it on a parchment or foil lined baking sheet in a thin layer. Season lightly with sea salt to taste and about 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Roll out the couscous by hand, which will make it super fluffy and light. Put the couscous back into the steamer basket. Make sure you still have enough liquid in the bottom compartment; the water can evaporate quickly.
Moisten the couscous with the remaining chicken broth. Continue to steam the couscous for another 45 minutes to an hour, fluffing occasionally. Add additional chicken if necessary.
Finally, remove the couscous from the heat and place it in a beautiful serving bowl. Toss the couscous in browned butter and finely chopped parsley. Serve with chicken, beef or whatever your desired protein is. Enjoy the best couscous you may ever eat this side of the Mediterranean!