Moroccan Baked Chicken with Pearl Couscous

, from Issue #104. July, 2022
Photography by Yuki Sato.
Moroccan Baked Chicken with Pearl Couscous

This tray bake version of a traditional tagine ticks all the boxes when it comes to aromatic spices, olives and pearl couscous.

Serves: 4-6


6 chicken drumsticks
4-5 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
sea salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 brown onions, peeled, cut into quarters through the root
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons tomato paste
zest and juice 1 lemon
3 tablespoons purchased Moroccan spice mix (I use Simon Gault’s)
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1½ cups pearl couscous (also called mograbieh)
3¾ cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
12 green or black olives

To serve
2 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Equipment: Large roasting dish or ovenproof baking dish big enough to take everything in a single layer (my tray is 42cm x 32cm x 3cm deep).


Preheat the oven to 180°C fan bake.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the chicken skin side down until deeply golden brown. Transfer to the roasting dish. Don’t wash the pan.

Add the onions to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, then add to the chicken. In a small bowl, stir the honey, tomato paste, lemon zest and juice, spice mix and garlic together, then tip into the pan and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the couscous, stock, bay leaves and the cinnamon stick and bring to the boil.

Tip the mixture over the chicken and onions then distribute the couscous evenly so it’s not all clumped together and flick off any that’s on top of the chicken.

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Uncover, scatter over the olives, then bake for a further 15 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and the couscous is tender but still with a little bite. Scatter over the combined pistachios and parsley.

The second I see Moroccan spices in a chicken recipe, I head for pinot gris and the Yealands Reserve Marlborough Pinot Gris 2021 ($19.95) is outstanding. Apple-and-spice-stacked, clean and fanging with pip fruit, this vibrant style is deliciously drinkable.

Yealands Reserve Marlborough Pinot Gris 2021