Home feels so damn good after almost a year away. I am privileged enough to have grown up in arguably one of the most picturesque places in the world, if you’re into mountains. Chamonix is a township nestled in a valley between towering mountain ranges in the French Alps. The Mont Blanc, one of the highest and most famous mountains in Europe, stands proudly and protectively over the beautiful little town. Today, it’s more touristy and populated than it was as I was growing up, but it has never shaken off its true mountain-loving roots with a plethora of sports bound to entertain anyone, from thrill-seekers to families with small children.
My parents moved back from Australia 3 years ago and I’ve relished the opportunity to once again make this my base; with my job as a yacht stewardess, I work abroad and all over the map, so it feels good to have a home to come home to in a place like this. When Lachie and I finished our year of gallivanting, which I’m sure I’ll get around to talking a little bit more about, I was determined to make it back to Chamonix for a few weeks before getting back to work. November here is often drab and rainy, with the dreaded snow-rain falling heavy from the sky and the huge temperature changes throughout the day. This year, I’m lucky. The sun has seldom neglected to appear, and the leaves have not all detached from the trees, keeping their bright orange autumn coats as if just for me.
Needless to say, evenings get cold, and a hot meal is exactly what I want, especially since night, along with the temperature, tends to fall around 5:15pm lately. So the other night I just craved something that would comfort me that wasn’t soup – I eat too much soup already. I searched the fridge for what I could find, so this recipe is very much a throw-whatever-spices-you-like kind of recipe. It’s very easy and very delicious, which is just what I needed after a long day of sun and mountains.
1 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tbsp garam masala powder
1/2 tbsp madras powder
1 tsp of cumin
2 pinch of salt
Pepper to taste
6 large (or 8 small) chicken thighs, bone in and skin on *(See end of post)
Olive or other cooking oil
2 medium brown onions, sliced
3 or 4 garlic cloves, sliced
300ml of chicken stock
300ml or diced canned tomatoes
2 cups of uncooked couscous
Juice from 1 lemon
Make a rub by mixing the spices in a small bowl. Rub half of the spice mix onto the chicken thighs with your hands.
Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a deep frypan and cook the thighs skin side down for 10 minutes, or until that side is dark brown and crispy, then turn them over and cook for another 2 minutes.
Take them out and put them aside, and add another 1/2 tbsp of oil, the onions and the garlic. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring frequently, and add the rest of the spice mix, then cook for another minute.
Add the stock and tomatoes, a few lunches of salt and pepper, stir and bring to a boil. Place the chicken back in the pan with the skin side up and out of the sauce. Cover and simmer on low for about 40mins or until the chicken is really tender. Turn off the heat, take the chicken out and keep warm.
Add the couscous and lemon juice, mixing it so that the sauce evenly coats the couscous (you can add about 1/2 a cup of boiling water to coat better). Cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Add the parsley and stir / fluff the couscous with a fork. Plate by spooning the couscous onto warmed plates and placing the chicken on top.
*I used bone-in skin-on chicken thighs for this time but I also tried with boneless and skinless thighs. To be honest I liked them both, it just depends what you prefer! If you use the boneless and skinless thighs, just cook the side the skin would’ve been on first and for the longest – the result will still give you a crispy skin-like bite!