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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

ALCUCUCERO, WITH COUSCOUS (THE GRAIN) FACTS AND RECIPE

EARTHENWARE COUSCOUS COOKER FROM SOUTHERN MOROCCO
Photo By: Wolfert

MODERN COUSCOUS COOKER
Photo by: best-b2b.com
Ar. qidr kuskusū or qidr al-huskusual-matquba, Eng. couscoussier, couscous cooker. Formerly, it was a perforated earthenware, cooking vessel. Four from the Nazari Period, during the 13th C, found in Castillejo, Granada consist of unglazed clay marmites for boiling water under a marmite with perforated bases for couscous. These are covered with lids having flat bases. The lid is called the "gita" and has a small hole in the middle or perforations around the border to concentrate the steam or to function like a chimney. [Anón/Huici.1966:204:371; and Misc. Conversations. Manuel María Vías Guitián. Nov 20, 02]

Couscous Facts:

1 cup dry couscous = 2-1/2 cups cooked.
As a side dish, plan on 1/2 to 3/4 cup cooked couscous per person.

Today, instant couscous is sold in supermarkets, see alcuzcuz. Traditional couscous is more difficult to find. The difference is like rice, whether the eaters prefer pre-cocked or raw rice.

If one is not available, a vegetable steamer may be used without the lid. If covered with a lid without holes as the steam cools it moistens the couscous too much making it mushy uchy!

Ingredients
for 4 persons

1 ½ tsp butter or  animal fat
2 ½ broth from boiling meat and/or vegetables with herbs and spices
1 c couscous

Preparation
When meat and vegetables have finished boiling, strain needed broth and put it in the bottom of a couscoussier. Bring to a boil. In the meantime, melt butter or heat lamb fat in saucepan. Add couscous to coat and toast it a little. Place it in the upper part of the cooker and cover. Reduce heat to simmer or place the pot on the hearthstone if using an open fire.  In about 20 minutes the grains should be cooked, like rice, not raw and not mushy. Fluff the grains and pour a mound on a platter with two inch sides.

Another method:
Like rice, after coating couscous with butter or fat, add stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook until liquid is absorbed. Fluff to separate grains.


Menu ideas:
Add couscous to salads.
Some serve it as porridge If couscous is not eaten in two or three days freeze it.

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