Recently, I had a discussion about whether the word 'jus' should be found on Australian menus, or not. It is often completely misused and then it would be better to keep it off the menu.
I went to a fairly trendy place, with prices to match, and they served a lamb dish with a 'jus'. I was horrified when I was presented with a piece of beautifully cooked lamb smothered in burnt oil speckled with charcoal bits. This is not a jus, it should not be called a jus, and it just plain should not be served.
OK, so to what does 'jus' refer? A proper jus is not necessarily made from pan dripping, but it does need to be based on a really good stock. (All good sauces are based on a really good stock.) Below is a jus, well a jus-lié made from scratch. The difference between jus and jus-lié is that the 'lié' part refers to a thickening agent.
A jus made from pan drippings is called a 'jus de rôti' or roast gravy. This should also be made with a really good stock.
This meal oozes spices. It will only work if the flavours are well balanced and subtle. Leaving aside over-spicing, this is a complex and tasty dish. Feel free to fry the jus vegetables in the same pan as the chicken to stop those flavours being washed down the sink.
Prepare chickpeas, by soaking and boiling for 2 hours.
Break up the chicken bones and brown them in the oven at about 200°C (400°F). Roughly chop the jus-lié vegetables. Sauté the vegetables until really brown. The idea of a jus is to get it very brown. Add the tomato paste, this should help to colour the sauce further. Add the bones and the stock. Leave to simmer for 1.5 hours; skimming is a good idea.
Seal the chicken and place it in a baking tray. Sprinkle with turmeric and crushed garlic. Layer sliced onion over the top and drizzle with olive oil. Place in oven for 45 minutes (try to time this so that you are removing the chicken close to service).
Peel and dice the sweet potato. The sweet potato will shrink in the next step, so cut it slightly larger than the chickpeas. Coat with oil, paprika and cumin (it's nice to make sure that every cube is speckled with spice, but avoid turning the sweet potato black - it has such a lovely orange colour). Place them into the oven for 40 minutes, turning them, crisping them.
Back to the jus-lié: Cook off the spices in oil. Add the strained stock and whisk. Return the sauce to a simmer. Turn the arrowroot into a paste and add it off the heat. Return to heat for at least 10 minutes (until the arrowroot is cooked out).
Prepare the couscous. Bring the stock to the boil. Remove from heat and add the couscous. Allow the couscous to absorb the stock. Add the butter and lemon juice and fork through to separate the grains (make the couscous light and fluffy). Add the sweet potato. Add the drained chickpeas and chopped basil.
Serving suggestion: Mould the couscous (in a measuring cup, for instance) and place it off centre. Slice the breasts lengthwise and fan around the couscous. Drape a modest amount of jus-lié over the couscous and chicken. Garnish with whole basil leaves.