Mario Batali prepares Sicilian-inspired couscous with clams and fennel at the 2013 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
Now, the dish I'm going to make is something called couscous. Couscous you think of a Northern African thing, well welcome to Sicily, we're almost in Northern Africa. The way they use it, however, is not as a starch that accompanies something else. They use it like pasta, so we're gonna make a dish that looks, behaves, and tastes as delicious as pasta, but instead of having a noodle, it's gonna have the grain itself. And it's actually really, really delicious. I have fennel, little garlic, little onions. When I'm making something that's kind of condiment for this pasta or this couscous dish. I chop things kind of on the small side because I really want the grain to be able to stand up. All right, so let's get it on the pan. I'm not cooking it till it's brown and caramelized. I'm not even cooking it until it's just fully softened. So I'm gonna add a pinch of chili flakes, a little pinch of saffron. So now I'm gonna take some currants, and when it's blended with Pine nuts, that's when it becomes something entirely different. We're going to add couscous. I'm going to add about 2/3 of a cup to a cup and then what I'm going to do is add another layer of flavor. When you add wine, what are you doing? You're adding acidity and you're adding sweetness. You're adding a little bit of structure, you're adding a little bit of something to play with that, but don't add too much. I'm gonna put the smallest clams I can find in there. [BLANK_AUDIO] And we're gonna put the lid on it and we're gonna cook it til the clams open which should take about six minutes. Then what we're gonna do is we're gonna turn it off the heat, [BLANK_AUDIO] and we're gonna let it just sit there and swell up a little bit, so all in it is gonna be about 10 minutes total, now To finish the cous cous, I'm gonna take fennel fronds like so and I'm gonna take some raw red onion. [SOUND] And I'm gonna toss them all in here like that. Turn up the heat and let it sit for a second. Toss all the way through. Notice how wet that is. It's wet. Kind of wet as a good paella. It's off the heat. We drizzle extra virgin olive oil. A pinch of chilis again. Put that last, okay. And then you trigger. Get to table like that Holy Jesus, that looks good. [APPLAUSE] [BLANK_AUDIO]