Chipotles in adobo are a flavor bomb, packed with a soupy mix of whole smoked and dried jalapeños that are rehydrated and canned in a tangy, sweet tomato sauce. A little dollop adds smoky flavor and heat to robust marinades, sauces, and stews. In this recipe, the chiles add essential flavor to the chicken marinade, which does double-duty as a basting sauce.
When using the chipotles, remember that the whole chiles have a good amount of heat, while the tomato sauce is milder and slightly sweet. So, spoon a balance of whole chiles with sauce in the food processor when making this recipe. Alternatively, separately process the entire can of chiles to get a smoother purée with a balance of heat and sweet. Either way, you won’t use the entire can, so don’t throw out the leftovers! They can easily be stored for future use. Transfer to a glass container and refrigerate for up to one month, or freeze for up to 6 months. This way you’ll have your own stash for dipping into.
In this recipe, I cut the chicken into large chunks to expose more edges to the marinade and drive in flavor. I also like to accompany the salad with hummus, which is optional.
Chipotle Chicken and Couscous Salad
Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes, plus marinating time
Serves: 4 to 5
1/4 cup chipotles in adobo sauce
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut in 2 to 3-inch chunks
1 1/2 cups whole wheat couscous
1 1/4 cups warm water
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and diced, finely diced
1 small jalapeño seeded, finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped, plus extra for garnish
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped, plus extra for garnish
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges for serving
Marinate the chicken:
Process all of the marinade ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Reserve 2 to 3 tablespoons for basting. Place the chicken in a medium bowl. Add the remaining marinade and turn the chicken to thoroughly coat. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or up to 24 hours.
Make the couscous:
Place the couscous in a large bowl. Add the water, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, and salt and stir once to blend. Cover the bowl and let stand until all of the liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Add the remaining ingredients and gently mix to combine. Taste for salt and seasoning.
Preheat the oven broiler (or prepare the grill). Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade. Broil or grill over direct medium heat until the chicken is charred and beginning to crisp in spots and thoroughly cooked through, basting with some of the reserved marinade, 10 to 14 minutes, depending on the thickness of the meat. (The internal temperature should register 165°F with a meat thermometer when fully cooked.)
Spread the couscous on a serving platter and arrange the chicken on top. Garnish with fresh mint and/or cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges.