I grew up loving couscous. We call it “marmahon” and in Honduras, it is most commonly made with chicken. “Marmahon con Pollo”, or Chicken Couscous is a very popular dish down there.
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When I was younger, my sister would instead make “Marmahon con Carne” or Couscous with Ground Beef. She always saved me a plate because it was one of my favorite meals! It took us a while after moving to the states to find out what marmahon was called here. Turns out, it’s a specific kind of couscous, and it’s called Pearl Couscous or Israeli Couscous.
What is Pearl Couscous?
When describing it to my kids, I tell them Couscous are little pasta balls. Now, I can’t speak for other kinds of couscous, but Pearl Couscous, or Israeli Couscous, are rolled up, toasted balls of wheat flour or semolina flour. In my opinion, they taste just like plain pasta.
Pearl Couscous was created in Israel in the 50s in response to a scarcity of rice. In Israel, Couscous is called Ptitim. On its own, it doesn’t have a specific flavor, much like pasta. That makes Pearl Couscous incredibly versatile and delicious when seasoned right!
Can You Cook Couscous in the Instant Pot?
It is so easy to make Couscous in the Instant Pot! I played with cooking Couscous in the Instant Pot for over a week and I’m so happy with the results. It takes only a few minutes to cook and always comes out perfect!
I made several different dishes with it, tried sautéing and tried just dump and start. Every way I tried, the result was a success. Needless to say, my kids ate Instant Pot Couscous for a week, and I didn’t hear any complaints!
What Can I Eat With Couscous?
Oh my, the possibilities are endless! I love Couscous with chicken, couscous with ground beef, couscous with red sauce, and couscous as a side.
It can be a meal all by itself or it can be enjoyed as a side to just about anything. You can season it so many ways. Just think of it as pasta and let your imagination take over!
Here is a list of the kitchen prep tools, utensils, and appliances I used to make this recipe.
Appliances & Cookware
These are the appliances and cookware that I used to make this recipe:
Prep Tools & Utensils
Here are the prep tools and utensils that you’ll need:
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Since I grew up eating it, I always wanted to come up with my own recipe for marmahon or couscous and I couldn’t be happier with the results. Don’t forget to also make my Instant Pot Chicken Couscous!
If you need a step-by-step, continue reading below. If not, you can scroll to the bottom for the recipe card.
Here you’ll learn, step-by-step, how to make pearl couscous with ground beef in the Instant Pot. This Instant Pot Couscous recipe is so full of flavor and warmth. It’s such a simple dish to make because it only requires pearl couscous, peppers, ground beef, and a few common spices. This recipe is perfect for busy weeknights because other than browning the ground sirloin, it is essentially a dump meal that’ll be ready in about 15 minutes.
What’s the best thing about this dish?
I love that this meal is so easy and creates a hearty dinner in minutes, but what I love even more is how wonderful it tastes. The pearl couscous makes an absolutely delicious pasta dish.
As I said, this couscous recipe uses simple ingredients like pearl couscous, ground sirloin, sweet mini peppers, and a handful of spices. To give this recipe it’s wonderful flavor, I use a blend of spices that you’re likely to already have in your pantry.
- Pearl Couscous: These little balls of pasta are amazing. They’re so easy to cook and great for so many pasta dishes. You should be able to find Pearl Couscous, also known as Israeli Couscous, in most of your local supermarkets. It’s also available at Walmart.
- Ground Sirloin: I almost always use ground sirloin for my recipes that call for ground beef. I like ground sirloin because it’s low in fat and has great flavor. When I sauté it in the Instant Pot, it doesn’t render enough fat to be drained. Not having to drain the meat saves me time. I can just start adding all my other ingredients once the ground sirloin is cooked.
- Sweet Mini Peppers: Not only do these peppers liven up this dish with color but they also provide a wonderful burst of flavor. They’re available at all my local supermarkets and can also be found at Costco.
- Unsalted Chicken Stock: I use chicken stock in a lot of my beef recipe because most store-bought beef stock is very mild in flavor. Store-bought chicken stock is much more flavorful because of the way it is manufactured.
- Seasonings: I use some common spices to make this wonderfully flavorful couscous. I use soy sauce, dried minced onion, garlic powder, ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Press the ‘Sauté’ button on the Instant Pot and then make sure to set the heat level to ‘More’ using the ‘Adjust’ button. Allow the pot to heat up for a couple of minutes before adding the oil and ground sirloin.
Next, you’ll add the oil to the pot and allow it to heat up for a minute. Once the oil is hot, add the ground beef to the Instant Pot and cook it, breaking it apart into smaller and smaller pieces as it cooks. Continue doing this until the meat is fully cooked. It will take between 5 and 8 minutes to cook the ground beef all they way through.
Next, add the chopped peppers to the pot and mix them into the ground beef. Then, add the spices including the dried minced onion, garlic powder, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes to the ground beef and mix everything thoroughly. Allow all the ingredients to cook for another few minutes to release the flavors and aromas of the spices and peppers into the ground beef.
Now, turn off the ‘Sauté’ function, add the pearl couscous to the pot and mix it into the ground beef. Finally, add the chicken stock to the pot and mix all the ingredient together well.
Close the Instant Pot, set the pressure release valve to ‘Sealing’, select the ‘Manual’ or ‘Pressure Cook’ function, ensure that the pressure level is set to ‘High Pressure’, and set the cooking time to 7 minutes.
Once the 7-minute cook time has completed, perform a quick pressure release (QPR). That means that you will immediately turn the pressure release valve to venting after the cooking time has completed. After all of the pressure has been released and the pin has dropped, open the Instant Pot and mix the couscous and beef.
That’s it! Now you and your family can enjoy a warm plate of this wonderful pasta dish.
I hope you have a chance to make this Instant Pot recipe. It has become a favorite for my family and I know that it will be one of your family’s as well. If you do try this recipe, please leave a comment and rate the recipe below to let me know how it was.
Instant Pot Couscous with Ground Beef
PEARL COUSCOUS, SEASONED GROUND BEEF, AND SWEET PEPPERS
- Set to Sauté: Set the Instant Pot to 'Sauté', use the 'Adjust' button to set the heat level to 'More', and allow the pot to heat up.
- Cook the Ground Beef: Add the oil to the pot and allow it to heat up. Add the ground beef and cook it, breaking it apart into smaller and smaller pieces as it cooks. Continue until the meat is cooked all the way through, 5 to 8 minutes.
- Season the Ground Beef: Add the chopped peppers, soy sauce, dried minced onion, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to the ground beef and mix everything thoroughly. Allow to cook for another few minutes.
- Cancel Sauté: Cancel out of the Sauté function.
- Add the Pearl Couscous & Chicken Stock: Add the pearl couscous and chicken stock to the ground beef and mix all the ingredients together.
- 7-Minute Cook Time: Close the Instant Pot, move the pressure release valve to 'Sealing' and set the pot to cook on 'Manual' or 'Pressure Cook', 'High Pressure' for 7 minutes.
- Quick Pressure Release: Once the 7-minute cook time has completed, perform a quick pressure release (QPR).
- Open the Pot: Once the remaining pressure has been released and the pin has dropped, open the Instant Pot and mix the couscous and ground beef.
- Serve and enjoy!
Common Questions & Answers
What is couscous? Couscous is a tiny round pasta made of semolina (a coarsely ground wheat), wheat flour, and water. The mixture is then pressed and rolled into tiny beads that are then dried. There are two varieties of couscous: couscous and Israeli couscous. Couscous is very tiny granules of pasta that look like grains, while Israeli couscous is made of much larger granules – about the size of a pearl. This is why Israeli couscous is often referred to as pearl couscous.
How do you cook couscous? Couscous is very versatile and very easy to prepare. You’ll want to cook it with water or broth and add whatever seasonings you wish. The great thing about couscous is that it absorbs the flavors that you cook it with. It is perfect for making on the stovetop or in an electric pressure cooker.
Is couscous gluten free? No. Couscous is often mistaken for being gluten-free. However, couscous is definitely not gluten-free. It is made from durum wheat so, therefore, it is not gluten-free.
Is couscous a grain or a pasta? While it shares some similarities to rice and quinoa (size, shape, and texture), couscous is actually a pasta. It is made from a mixture of semolina, wheat flour, and water.
Is couscous healthier than rice? An equal amount of couscous will have approximately 20% fewer calorie and slightly fewer carbs than both brown rice and white rice. Brown rice and white rice both contain approximately 30% less protein and a higher amount of fat. Couscous is a great source of both selenium and potassium. However, brown rice is healthier in every other way, providing more fiber and – where brown rice really beats both couscous and white rice – lots of nutrients including manganese, selenium, phosphorus, copper, magnesium, and niacin. White rice is the big loser in this comparison because it’s been stripped of the nutrient-rich bran and germ. While brown rice may be healthier, couscous is still a healthy option.
Is couscous healthy? Yes, couscous can be a healthy option as long as it is eaten in moderation and doesn’t replace your intake of whole grains. While it is a great source of two essential minerals, selenium and potassium, it lacks the fiber and other important nutrients that whole grains can provide. There is, however, a whole wheat couscous available that is more nutritious and packs more than double the fiber of regular couscous.
What dishes can I make with couscous? With its mild flavor, couscous is a very versatile option that works well with a variety of flavors. It easily takes on the flavor of whatever you’re cooking and can stand in for just about any dish that you would make with rice, quinoa, or pasta. There are endless ways to serve couscous and it’s particularly great served in salads, soups, side dishes, and casseroles.
Serve with a salad. This recipe is great served with a simple tossed salad with your favorite dressing.
Serve with crusty bread. This recipe is also great with some buttery toasted bread.