This masterpiece is ideal for a feast.
- 2 chickens, each cut into 6 pieces
- 2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
- 8 carrots, peeled and cut into thirds
- 10 small white onions, peeled
- 1 butternut squash, trimmed, seeded, and cut into 2'' pieces
- 3 yams, peeled and cut into 2'' pieces
- 1 cabbage, cut into 12 wedges
- 4 small zucchini, cut into 2'' rounds
- 2 large pinches saffron threads
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cups medium-grain instant couscous
- 2 cups golden raisins
- 1 cup blanched almonds
- 1 1⁄2 cups pitted prunes, halved
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1⁄2 cup vegetable oil
- 3 Tbsp. sugar
Put chicken, chickpeas, carrots, onions, squash, yams, and cabbage into a large stockpot. Cover with water (about 30 cups), and bring to a boil over high heat, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat to medium, add zucchini and saffron, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes more. Adjust seasonings. Keep warm over low heat.
Preheat oven to 400º. Put couscous into a large bowl. Add 6 cups of broth from stock-pot, cover, and set aside until tender, about 5 minutes. Rake couscous with the tines of a fork to separate the grains. Combine raisins, almonds, prunes, cinnamon, oil, and 1 cup of the broth in a medium bowl, and set aside.
Mound couscous in the center of a large, ovenproof platter. Use a slotted spoon to distribute chickpeas and then to arrange carrots, onions, squash, yams, cabbage, and zucchini around base of couscous. Cover top of couscous with raisin-almond mixture, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until nuts are golden, 10-15 minutes. Remove couscous from oven, and moisten with 2 cups of the broth. Reserve chicken and remaining broth for another use.