Monday, August 25, 2008

Lorna's Mediterranean Couscous with Filipino Chorizo

This recipe is my easy version of Spanish Rice with Filipino and Italian influences. Since I'm a lover of pine nuts and basil, and my husband loves lots of garlic, I decided to include these ingredients. No onions for this dish, though, although I wouldn't mind adding lots of Vidalia onions (for the sweetness).

It's the spice mix I use that makes a difference. Since I make the rounds of ethnic-type markets, I watch out for interesting spices. In this case, I used a natural condiment for paella, meats, and fish, named Bijol, which contains corn flour, cumin, annatto (yes, for the yellowish color), yellow no. 5, and red no. 40.

Ingredients: Prepare in sequence.

1-1/2 cups couscous (follow instructions for cooking the couscous; set aside; this can be done a few hours before)
4 pieces Flipino chorizo, Pampanga-style (a more sweet, spicy chorizo or longaniza; this can also be cooked beforehand but I like to do this when I start cooking); or if you don't want a sweet, sticky chorizo, use chorizos from Lucban (Quezon), Vigan, or Baguio (Dipasupil), or my favorite longaniza from Cebu (check out my sister's (Noemi Dado) recipe of skinless longaniza if you want to make your own)
1 large tomato, cored and diced (1/4" cubes are fine); set aside in a plastic bag inside the refrigerator
1 heaping tbsp. chopped garlic (ok, I like using bottled chopped garlic)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil to fry the pine nuts (until light yellow); however, I like to use the left-over oil from the chorizo
1 heaping tbsp. raw pignolias or pine nuts (I use Trader Joe's Nuts which is an 8 oz. or 227 gm. package)
2 cubes of frozen chopped basil, Dorot brand (I buy this at Trader Joe's)
1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (to stir-fry the couscous in)
1/4 tsp. Bijol condiment (found in many Mexican groceries or other Latin marketplaces)
Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1. Prick the chorizo pieces with a fork. Parboil the Filipino chorizo in a little water over low-to-medium heat in a skillet until it renders its own fat. Continue cooking (with a splatter guard) as it fries in its own fat. Be careful since the chorizo caramelizes quickly (thus, burns quickly). This could take around 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Slice diagonally into thin slices. Set aside.

2. In the same chorizo oil, fry the raw pine nuts until light golden yellow. Add a little extra-virgin olive oil if you want to. (You can also roast the pine nuts in an iron skillet.). Set aside.

3. Fry the chopped garlic in the same oil until golden yellow. Add the frozen cubes of chopped basil and cook until the cubes dissolve. (Note: You can use extra-virgin olive oil in a separate teflon skillet that is large enough to mix the couscous mix in it.)

4. At this point, transfer the fried garlic and chopped basil mix to a large teflon or stainless steel skillet. Add 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (or more, according to your taste). Add the Bijol condiment. Add the sliced chorizo pieces (if you need to re-heat them). Add the cooked couscous.

5. Finally, add cooked pine nuts and the tomatoes at the final stage of cooking. Mix well. (This means that you don't need to add the tomatoes and pine nuts until just before serving.)

6. Season with fresh ground pepper.

Serve with my Mediterranean Chicken Stir-Fry.

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Lorna's Mediterranean Chicken Stir-Fry

This is a healthy, no-nonsense dish that I made with Trader Joe's Individually Frozen Boneless, Skinless, Ice Glazed Chicken Breast Meat with Rib Meat. The package has about 14 pieces, weighs 2 lbs. and 8 ozs. (or 1.13 kilos). The seasoning mix, a specialty of, is a Persian-style spice blend, containing onion, citric, acid, salt, pepper, paprika, saffron, parsley, and other spices.

This recipe and its accompanying dish, Lorna's Mediterranean Couscous with Filipino Chorizo, was specially created for my husband and his midnight shift companions during the stressful week of late August 2008 when their company instituted a corporate lay-off of about 20-22% of the employees. Since they didn't know who among them would be laid off that week, I decided that home-cooked meals (not take-out pizza) would help ease their work-related stress.


1.5 lbs. chicken with or without skin, defrosted and cut into 2-inch cubes (this is about 7 pieces, if using Trader's Joe's Chicken Breast Meat with Rib Meat)
1 package (1 oz.) of Sadaf Chicken Kabob Seasoning
extra virgin olive oil for stir-frying


1. This can be done several hours before cooking. Place the chicken pieces in a plastic bag with the seasoning (I use a freezer ziplock-type bag). Shake well until all pieces are well coated. At this point, you can transfer the marinated chicken pieces to a plastic or glass bowl (a non-reactive bowl, which doesn't react to acid), cover, and refrigerated for 10-15 minutes. I don't do this but instead, I use the same ziploc bag (much more efficient, and when I have time, I turn around the pieces inside the bag).

2. For cooking: You can grill, bake, or fry the chicken pieces. You can also use this as barbecue-style chicken with green or red bell peppers. If grilling, brush chicken pieces with oil or water during the grilling process. If baking, use a oil-lined pyrex dish (or glass dish for oven baking), and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, turning the pieces once in a while for even cooking. This might take about 30 minutes only.

In this case, I like to stir-fry.

Heat a non-reactive skillet (not an iron skillet or aluminum skillet because of the citric acid found in the spices) such as stainless steel or teflon-type.

Add about 1 Tbsp. (or more) of extra virgin olive oil until heated through.

Then, add the marinated chicken pieces and stir-fry over medium heat until done.

Serve with my Mediterranean Couscous with Filipino Chorizo.

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