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Classic Couscous with Butter and Fried Almonds

Serves: Makes 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1½cups couscous
  • About 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ⅓ cup whole blanched almonds


Procedures:

Plain couscous is the ultimate comfort food. This version is seasoned with salt, melted butter, and fried almonds. Eat it for supper with a piece of grilled fish or sautéed chicken cutlets. Add a green vegetable and you have a meal.
  1. Place the couscous in a strainer and hold it under cold running water for one minute. Shake out the excess water and spread the couscous on a platter. Let stand for 10 minutes.


  2. Pull your fingertips through the couscous to separate the granules and break up any lumps that have formed. This is called "raking."


  3. Half fill the bottom section of a couscoussière with water. Lightly butter the inside of the top section and set it on top of the bottom section. Cut a length of cheesecloth long enough to go around the rim of the bottom section with a slight overlap. Dampen the cheesecloth with water, squeeze dry, and sprinkle lightly with the flour. Fold the cheesecloth into a 2-inch-wide band, and wrap the band around the rim between the top and bottom sections to seal the seam so no steam escapes. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a gentle boil. When the steam begins to rise through the perforations, add about half of the couscous in a layer. Then spoon the remaining couscous on top, piling it into a pyramid. Steam, uncovered, for 20 minutes. If you don't have a couscoussière use an 8-quart Dutch oven fitted with a large colander with small perforations. The colander should fit tightly in the pot without touching the bottom. Fill the pan one-fourth full with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Place the colander on top of the pot and add the dampened couscous (see step 1) and steam as you would in a couscoussière.


  4. Turn off the heat. Remove the upper section and turn the couscous out onto a platter, spreading it out with a wooden spoon. In a small bowl, stir together the water and salt. When the couscous is cool enough to touch, sprinkle it with the salt water and rake it with your fingertips to separate any clumps. Let the couscous rest for 10 minutes.


  5. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.


  6. Turn the heat under the couscoussière back on to medium. When the steam begins to rise through the perforations, add about half of the couscous in a layer. Then spoon the remaining couscous on top, piling it into a pyramid. Steam, uncovered, for 15 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Spoon the cooked couscous onto a large serving platter.


  7. Top the hot couscous with the almonds and melted butter and fluff with the tines of a fork. Serve at once.

by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing

 
 
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