Mediterranean Chicken with Couscous

I had been craving tzatziki and decided to do a Mediterranean style chicken dinner. I’m calling it that instead of Greek as I don’t recall ever having couscous in Greece. This is a pretty quick cooking recipe (although the tzatziki and marinade will take a few hours). Actual cook time is around 20 minutes.

My recipe for tzatziki can be found HERE and you only need to make it a couple hours in advance for the flavors to come together. It will be stronger the next day, so don’t go too crazy on the garlic (unless you really hate vampires).

A few crumbles of feta cheese would have gone nicely with this dish, too.

Stuff any leftover meat in a pita with some more tomatoes, a little lettuce and another dollop of tzatziki. Definitely food for the gods!

Mediterranean Chicken with Couscous

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Mediterranean Marinade:
1 tablespoon lemon zest
juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
¼ cup olive oil

1 cup couscous
½ cup of Kalamata olives
1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 recipe tzatziki

Slice the chicken into strips. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together and place the marinade and chicken in a zip top bag. Remove as much air as possible when sealing the bag and massage the marinade into the chicken. Set in the fridge for up to 4 hours.

Heat 2 cups of water to boiling. Place the couscous in a medium boil and pour the water over. You can use broth here for more flavor but water is fine. Cover and let stand for at least 5 minutes.

Heat a skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Stir fry the chicken until done, about 5 minutes per side.

Pit the olives and slice into quarters. Slice the cherry tomatoes into halves. Fluff the couscous and stir in the olives and tomatoes.

Place a couple of spoonfuls of the couscous on each plate. Add four strips of chicken and a healthy dollop of tzatziki and serve.

Cast Iron Skillet Sourdough Pizza

It’s the new year and I’ve started it off by building a new starter. I’m using the King Arthur Flour method and it is good and healthy so I decided to use some of the discard for pizza.

Sourdough starter alone requires a long, slow proof but with a little boost from some active yeast, you can have lots of flavor in only about 4 hours. It can go longer so, if you want pizza for dinner, start the dough before you leave for work and it will be ready to go when you get home.

For home cooks without pizza ovens, I really like the cooking method from Bon Appetit that uses a cast iron skillet and a stove top step to make sure the crust comes out browned and crunchy. Of course, Michelle and I have modified it a bit.

The sourdough crust gave very good flavor and texture to a quite delicious pizza.

Cast Iron Skillet Sourdough Pizza

Sourdough Pizza Dough
1 cup sourdough starter
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon active yeast
1 teaspoon cornmeal

Pizza sauce – dashes of basil, thyme and oregano plus a sprinkle of salt in a cup of tomato sauce heated in a saucepan over low heat. Taste after it is warmed and add more of whatever it is missing. If using a can of sauce, consider adding in a pinch of sugar to combat any metallic taste.

Toppings of choice – pepperoni, sautéed mushrooms and grated mozzarella cheese.

Stir sourdough starter before removing one cup. To it add 1/2 water, oil, salt, flour and yeast in a stand mixer and mix together until it forms a shaggy but sticky dough. Place in a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place for 2 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F with a cast iron skillet inside.

Use a 9 inch pan for a thicker crusted pizza and and 10 inch for a thinner crust. Using your fingertips, press the risen dough into a rough circle to fit in the skillet.

When the oven is at temperature, remove skillet and drizzle olive oil over the bottom. Use a basting brush to coat the bottom and sides with oil. Sprinkle the corn meal in the bottom for an additional crunch. Carefully set the dough into the skillet, letting it slump around the sides. Beware of touching any of your skin to the sides as the skillet is very, very hot.

Place the skillet over an element on the stovetop set at medium high heat. Prick the bottom with a fork a few times. Once it starts to bubble, add a little olive oil and use the basting brush to coat the base of the pizza and the crust. Add a light sprinkling of kosher salt.

It is time now to build your pizza. We start with a light layer of tomato sauce. Then a generous amount of mushrooms, a generous amount of mozzarella cheese and sliced pepperoni. Placing the pepperoni on top of the cheese keeps the cheese from over browning in the oven, although you will need to blot the grease before serving.

Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Check the cheese. When it starts to go dark, the pizza is ready. Tap the crust edges to be sure – they will sound hollow. It may take 10 minutes more but watch it carefully.

Let stand for 5 minutes in the skillet before easing it out onto a cutting board. Wait another 5 minutes before slicing and serving.