2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 3 medium onions peeled, each cut into 6 wedges, root end intact
- 4 bay leaves
- 4 large cloves garlic, crushed
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup good quality pitted large green olives
- 5 tablespoons butter
- 4 Meyer lemons or organic lemons, 2 sliced, 1 zested and juiced, plus 1 juiced
- 1 generous pinch saffron threads, 12-15 threads
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 quart homemade or store-bought chicken stock
- 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric, (half a palmful)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, (half a palmful)
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2- 2 pounds poached chicken, diced or shredded
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 1/2 cups couscous
- 1/4 cup finely chopped mint leaves
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves
Heat 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bay leaves and garlic and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir for 3-4 minutes, then cover the pan and sweat the onions for 3-4 minutes more. Uncover the pot and stir in the olives.
Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a medium-high sided skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Slice 2 lemons and gently brown the slices, in 2 batches. As they brown, add them to the pan with the onions. Add 3 more tablespoons butter to the pan and let it melt, then add saffron threads and the zest of l lemon to the melted butter and stir for 1 minute. Whisk in the flour, cook for a minute more, then whisk in 2 1/2 cups of the chicken stock. Season the sauce with turmeric, cumin and cinnamon and let thicken for a couple of minutes. Stir in the juice of remaining 2 lemons and reduce the heat to low. Add the chicken and sauce to the onions and gently stir to combine. Cool and store for a make-ahead meal or, cover the pan to warm the chicken through and combine flavors.
When ready to serve, prepare couscous. Put the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium pot or pan with tight-fitting lid and let it melt over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and gently toast them to light golden brown. Stir in the remaining 1 1/2 cups of chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Stir in the couscous, turn off heat, cover the pan and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork and add the mint and parsley. Spoon the couscous into a serving bowl.
Transfer the chicken mixture to a serving bowl or platter and serve with the couscous.