Monday, March 12, 2012

Chicken cacciatore with a whiff of Asia

"Do you want the chicken Italian or Indonesian tonight?"
So, I tried to do both. I was going to make an Indonesian-Chinese chicken stew with a garlic and yellow bean sauce. I eliminated out the other Asian flavors, but kept the bean sauce, which disappeared into the background but added some umami depth to the dish. I would also have put in some porcini mushrooms but we had none So I used dried shitakes. My only mistake was that I should have used more.
"This doesn't taste Asian at all.  Not one bit."
Here is the dish. Try it and decide for yourself. Leave out the bean sauce if you must, but you will be missing something.

Chicken cacciatore with a whiff of Asia

  • 8-16 dried shitake mushrooms
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons yellow bean sauce (tauco, see below)
  • 8 chicken thighs, skinned
  • 1/2 pound fresh cremini mushrooms  washed and sliced(or omit and use more shitakes)
  • 2-3 chopped canned tomatoes (about 1/2 cup)
  • large pinch ground rosemary
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon soy sauce or Bragg's aminos (depending on saltiness of tauco)
  1. Soak the shitakes in boiling water to cover for about 1/2 hour while you proceed with the rest of the recipe. (You can also zap them for a minute in a covered dish in the microwave, but I find they soften more evenly using conventional soaking.)
  2. Saute the onion in olive oil on high in a large nonstick skillet until just starting to brown.
  3. Meanwhile, pound the tauco and garlic to a paste. This is most easily done in a mortar and pestle.  However, they can also be smashed together with the side of a knife.
  4. Add the paste to the skillet and saute for a few minutes until the garlic no longer smells raw.
  5. Add the chicken thighs, and stir fry them until they have browned a bit.
  6. Add remaining ingredients except mushrooms and their liquid.
  7. Drain mushrooms reserving the liquid, rinse, remove the hard woody stem, slice and add to the stew.
  8. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with a coffee filter or paper towel, and add to the stew.
  9. Partly cover, bring to a simmer, can cook on low for 1/2 hour to 40 minutes until done, turning once.
  10. For a thicker sauce, remove the chicken to a serving dish and boil down the liquid until thick, and pour over the chicken.
  11. Serve with rice, pasta or best of all, polenta (see below).
Why thighs?  They are the best cut for stew.  The meat to bone ration is relatively high and the shape is compact, so they take up less valuable pan real estate.  The skin adds nothing other than fat and is rather unappetizing when stewed.  It is easy to slip off and you can sometimes buy them already skinned.  Thighs are also very forgiving.  Something about the musculature makes them very difficult to overcook. Use a whole chicken if you must.

Tauco?  This is a whole yellow (actually light brown) bean sauce popular in Southeast Asia.  I used Yeo's.  It is generally pounded to a miso-like paste, but also good with the beans left whole.

What about the polenta?  Here you have two choices.  You can use firm polenta cut into slices and browned in a skillet or under the broiler.  The precooked logs from the supermarket are actually fine here.  I often like like softer polenta, and have recently discovered an ultra easy method.  It takes an hour or a little more, so put this up before you do anything else and it should be ready when the rest of dinner is. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Take 1 cup of medium or coarse yellow corn meal and mix it with 4 cups of water and a about  teaspoon of salt in a 2 quart or larger ovenproof casserole. Put it in the oven and leave it for an hour, stirring after 45 minutes.  If it is still too soft, cook 10 minutes longer.  This keeps well for a while in a turned off oven.

No comments:

Post a Comment