Monday, August 23, 2010

Khoresh Fesenjan (Chicken Stew with Pomegranate Sauce)

A couple of years ago I spent Ramadan in Istanbul. Though I am not a religious person I was frequently invited to break fast with my Turkish family which extended to include everyone I met. Having the same parents is not required to adopt a brother. I am not kidding, I have never in my life experienced such warmth and hospitality. 

Of course I collected recipes as I had some of the most wonderful food of my life. Breaking fast is an ancient tradition and the recipes at this time of year make every meal a party. Most nights there was Pide bread and lentil soup at the beginning then any number of meze followed by a main course. This was one of my absolute favorites. 
Whatever your religion or lack thereof it would not hurt to fast for a a day and be doubly grateful for your food as you break bread with friends.
Chicken with a thick walnut and pomegranate sauce.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, cut up
2 white onions, thinly sliced
2 stalks of chopped celery
1/2 pound walnuts, toasted and finely
ground in a food processor
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon corriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place chicken and onions in skillet, and cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix in pureed walnuts, celery, salt, pomegranate juice, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. (If the sauce becomes too thick, stir in 1/4 cup warm water.) Taste for salt and seasoning and serve with Basmati Rice.      

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ginger Lime Pork Belly

Currently I am staying in a tiny hotel room on the beach in a tiny town in the Dominican Republic. I have one skillet, one larger pot, two plates and two wine glasses.

I cut everything with a serrated steak knife and cook on a two burner stovetop.

That does not mean I am not eating well.

Traditionally when I have made pork belly I have done it in a Szechaun style with 5 spice rub and a slow braise. It takes a lot of prep and seasoning and I have limited ingredients in my little room. However I did come up with a wonderful and simple way to cook this awesome meat.

1 lb of pork belly (serves two to 4)
1/8 cup brown sugar
A good amount of salt and black pepper

Cut the belly into bite sized pieces and rub with the sugar salt and pepper mixture. Leave for one day refrigerated uncovered.

Brown the meat in a little oil and remove from the pan in the remaining fat we will make our sauce.

Juice of 3 limes
2 cups water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup of finely chopped ginger
1 onion sliced thin
1 clove of garlic
Some hot red pepper

Add the onion to the fat and when soft the garlic and ginger, then all of the liquid and hot pepper. Turn the flame to low and cover to braise.

Cook for about two hours, checking liquid level and stirring periodically. Uncover and let the sauce reduce to a glaze, taste for seasoning and serve with vegetables over rice. Succulent, fatty, tangy and delicious.

What more can one ask from life.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Chicken with Leeks

Chicken and onions are natural companions. The flavors go so well together.

This entry however is among my new favorites. Made for me by a French Chef in Santo Domingo this very simple dish elevates both the chicken and the leek. It takes slightly more than an hour to prepare and most of that time it is just sitting in the oven so you can make a salad and have a glass of wine.

1 small to medium chicken 3 to 4 pounds
8 leeks, sliced and cleaned
1 medium carrot chopped
4 celery ribs finely chopped
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 bottle of wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil and butter

Brown a cut up, lightly salted bird in olive over medium heat in a dutch oven or other oven proof pan. Remove and dump in one stick of butter (1/4 lb; do NOT use margarine) and turn the heat down add the leeks and slowly soften them. Add your garlic and continue to stir until fragrant, throw in the carrot, celery and chicken. Cover with one bottle of white wine (unoaked) and place in the oven at 350 for an hour.

Remove from oven and with a slotted spoon remove chicken from leek mixture. Place on a platter in the oven to keep warm.

Reduce the sauce by two thirds. Taste for salt and adjust. Give several grinds of black pepper. Spoon sauce over chicken and make your guests very happy. Serve with buttered noodles or even rice if you like.