If you were to take a look in my perpetually overloaded fridge, you may worry that I have something of a mustard obsession. At the very minimum I will keep four types in the fridge: good old English mustard for ham sandwiches, wholegrain for salad dressings, Dijon for sauces and a bright yellow tube of French’s American mustard for squeezing over burgers or zig-zagging over hotdogs. As well as this, I have a tin of mustard powder in the cupboard, which often makes its way into shortcrust pastry and my favourite cheese, chive and mustard scones, and a stash of both horseradish and wasabi. I love the kind of heat that you get from those ingredients, the kind that, unlike the heat from chillies, blasts you in the nose and sends a pulse of fire through your sinuses. I love it to the point of addiction, so was very happy to be approached by Maille to take part in their culinary challenge.
Maille is a brand of mustards, sauces and oils from France that started in the eighteenth century. Despite the fact that they have, in recent years, branched out into other ingredients, it is mainly for their mustard that they are known. Their boutique in the Piccadilly Arcade is like a mecca for condiment lovers – I never thought I would covet a £29, 125g pot of mustard with chablis and black truffles, but somehow I managed.
From the list of products they sent me, the one that caught my eye was a mustard with white wine, lemon and harissa. The prospect of the dry heat of mustard combined with the chilli pepper punch of harissa presented the opportunity for some exciting flavours. This recipe is for a a simple chicken in mustard sauce with the middle eastern influences of harissa, mint, lemon and oregano. It is a quick and simple dish that can be made in under half an hour, so is perfect for a weeknight meal. The tomato and harissa cut through the cream and mustard and the nuggets of pomegranate seeds and the dates in the cous cous provide a sweetness that matches the flavours surprisingly well. The dish would work perfectly well without the additional teaspoon of harissa but, if you live with a chilli fiend, as I do, it adds just that little extra punch.
As if the condiment shelf in my fridge wasn’t full enough, it seems I may have to make room for another.
Harissa and Lemon Mustard Chicken with Date and Almond Cous Cous
For the chicken:
- 6 boneless chicken thighs, cut into strips
- 3 tbsp Maille Mustard with White Wine, Lemon and Harissa Spices
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- ½ tsp dried mint
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tsp harissa
- 180ml hot water
- Sea salt and ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp double cream
- 1 tsp fresh mint, finely chopped
- 1 tsp pomegranate seeds
For the cous cous:
- 125g cous cous
- 10 dates, roughly chopped
- Handful of almonds, roughly chopped
- Sea salt and black pepper
Place the chicken thighs in a large shallow dish. Spoon over the mustard and mix to coat the chicken thoroughly. Cover with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, but preferably overnight.
In a large saucepan over a medium heat, gently fry the onion in the olive oil until translucent, 5-10 minutes, be careful not to let it brown. Once cooked, stir in the dried mint, dried oregano, tomato puree and harissa. Pour over the hot water and stir until smooth. Season with the salt and pepper and cook for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
Whilst the chicken is cooking, make the cous cous by placing it in a bowl and then covering it with just enough boiling water so that it is submerged. Cover with clingfilm and leave for ten minutes or so, until the water is absorbed. Fluff the cous cous with a fork and stir in the dates and almonds. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Once the chicken is cooked through, lower the heat and stir in the double cream. Check the seasoning. Remove from the heat and sprinkle over the fresh mint and pomegranate seeds to garnish. Serve with the cous cous.
Serves 2-3 as a main dish.