Category Archives: African

Jerk Chicken with Coconut Saffron Rice and Black Beans

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The best jerk recipe I have ever tasted, delighted the senses, as it was fragrant, fiery hot and smoky all at once.The original recipe was developed by Paul Chung, an adventurous self-taught cook who grew up in Jamaica and has sampled jerk from just about every corner of the island. Making a few adjustments, I added  fresh ginger, dark brown sugar and apple cider vinegar to the marinade. For best results and maximum flavor, let the chicken marinate overnight, covered, in the refrigerator.

As side dishes goes, this saffron rice recipe cooks up pretty quickly, making it a great dish if you are in a hurry. Another added bonus is that is one of those rare dishes that gluten free and vegan. However, if you are allergic to coconut milk, soy milk is a suitable substitute.

Serves 8

Ingredients:
For the Chicken:
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
3 medium scallions, chopped
2-3 Scotch bonnet chili peppers, stems removed, chopped (or Habaneros)
2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
1 tablespoon allspice berries, coarsely ground
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon white or apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Two 3 1/2- to 4-pound chickens, quartered

For the Saffron Coconut Rice and Beans:
1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon plain water,at room temperature
2 cups uncooked white basmati rice (or any long grain rice)
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 3/4 cup coconut milk
2 cups water
1 teaspoon agave nectar, (or 1/2 teaspoon of sugar)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
a pinch of ground nutmeg
One 15-ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
Lime wedges, for garnish

Special Equipment:
Latex gloves for handling the chilis and massaging the marinade under the chicken skin.

Directions:
For the chicken start preparing it a day or two ahead of actual cooking.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels.In a food processor, combine the onion, scallions, chiles, ginger, garlic, five-spice powder, allspice, black pepper, thyme, nutmeg, salt and brown sugar; process to a coarse paste. With the machine on, add the the soy sauce and oil in a steady stream. Put on latex gloves and pour the marinade into a large, shallow dish. Slather the marinade all over chicken, including under skin, and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking and lightly sprinkle with more salt and ground allspice, before proceeding.

Prepare a charcoal grill: Clean and oil grates.Light a grill and preheat to medium heat using one chimney of charcoal. The temperature can start as high as 300°F. For best results, coals should be at least 12 inches away from chicken. If necessary, push coals to one side of grill to create indirect heat. Add two large handfuls of soaked pimento (allspice) wood sticks and chips (See Cook’s Notes) or other aromatic wood chips to coals, then close grill. When thick white smoke billows from grill, place chicken on grate, skin side up, and cover. Let cook undisturbed for 35 to 45 minutes.

Uncover the grill. The chicken will be golden and mahogany in some spots. Chicken thighs may already be cooked through. For other cuts, turn chicken over and add more wood chips, and charcoal as needed. Cover and continue cooking, checking and turning every 10 minutes. Jerk chicken is done when skin is burnished brown and chicken juices are completely clear, with no pink near the bone. For large pieces, this can take up to an hour.

While chicken is cooking, begin to prepare the rice.

In a small bowl, soak saffron threads in the water, at room temperature, for 5 minutes and set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat peanut oil over a medium heat until it begins to shimmer, about 2 minutes. Stir in chopped shallot and garlic, and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Stir in rice, mixing with a wooden spoon until all of the grains are coated with peanut oil. Fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly.Gently stir in the coconut milk, water, saffron mixture, agave or sugar, turmeric, cumin taking care as the oil will splatter. Season with salt, and gently stir, making sure that nothing sticks to the bottom while everything comes to a boil.

Once liquid achieves a boil, reduce heat to low. Place lid on pot, slightly askew to allow some steam to escape. Stir occasionally to make sure rice does not stick to bottom of pan and the sugar in the coconut milk does not burn. Allow to simmer *very* gently for 15-20 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Stir in the black beans and cook for a few minutes more until hot. Remove from heat and cover the saucepan. Allow to stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork when you are ready to serve.

When the chicken is done, transfer to a platter.Garnish with lime wedges and serve with the rice.

Cook’s Notes:
Pimento wood sticks and chips are available at www.pimentowood.com.

Alternatively you bake the chicken in the oven if a grill is not readily available.After marinating and you are ready to cook the chicken, heat oven to 350°F and bake chicken for 45-55 minutes, until done.

Also, if time is of the essence, you can first bake the chicken at 300°F in the oven then finished off on the grill. This will result in crispy skin, with perfect texture and flavor.

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Poulet Yassa (Yassa Chicken)

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A traditional chicken dish from the Casamance region of Senegal, Poulet Yassa (Yassa Chicken ), is one of the most famous African recipes and is found in Senegalese restaurants the world over. For best results let the chicken marinate overnight; in Africa, this is essential to tenderize the sometimes tougher African fowl. It is also very good when made with fish, see: Poisson Yassa. For the simplest yassa, make the marinade from just oil, lemon juice, onions, and a little mustard.

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:
1/2 cup peanut oil (or any cooking oil)
one chicken, cut into serving-sized pieces
4 to 6 onions, sliced
8 Tablespoons lemon juice
8 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
4 cloves minced garlic
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons Arome Maggi® sauce or soy sauce
1 chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
1 small cabbage, cut into chunks
2 carrots, cut into chunks

Directions:
One day before: Cut the onions into thin slices. To make the marinade, combine onions, mustard, lemon juice, chile pepper, salt, and pepper in a  large non-metallic  bowl. Place the pieces of chicken into the marinade, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate over night for the best results.

The next day, remove the chicken  from the marinade. Reserve the marinade to make the sauce.

Cook  the chicken using on the following methods:

  • Cooking method 1: Grill chicken over a charcoal fire (or bake
    it in a hot oven preheated to 375 F) until chicken is lightly browned but not done.
  • Cooking method 2: Sauté chicken for a few minutes on each side in hot oil in a cast iron skillet.

While chicken is browning, remove onions from marinade and sauté them in a large Dutch oven until translucent. Add  the reserved marinade and the vegetables and bring to a slow boil and cook at a boil for ten minutes. Next, add the chicken  to the sauce, cover and simmer over medium heat until chicken is tender, about 30-40 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

To serve, spoon the vegetables into a soup platter and top with the chicken and ladle the sauce over the chicken.

This dish is also best served with sides like  rice, couscous  or fufu. For a more authenitc meal, Yassa Chicken is also served with  ginger beer or green tea with mint with or after the meal.

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TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Chicken Tagine with Preserved Lemons and Olives

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This colorful Moroccan stew offers deep spices, but stays light and bright with tart citrus, briny green olives and fresh cilantro. For the most authentic presentation, serve it in a  tagine, atop a bed of couscous.

Serves  4

Ingredients:

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
2 Tablespoons warm water
2 large yellow onions, chopped
1/2 cup  coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus  more for garnish
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley,  plus more for garnish
4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
6 Tablespoons olive oil
6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1 1/2 cups cracked green olives
2 preserved lemons, thinly sliced
1/2 cup  chicken broth

Directions:

In a small bowl, soak the saffron in the warm water for 10 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the onions, the 1/2 cup cilantro, 1/2 cup parsley and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice. Add the cumin, ginger, turmeric, the saffron and its soaking liquid and the salt. Process to a pulpy puree. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag. Add the garlic and 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the chicken thighs, seal the bag and massage to coat the chicken with the mixture. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

Put the olives in a large, heavy fry pan and add water to cover. Set over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer, then simmer for 5 minutes. Drain the olives and set aside. Thoroughly dry the pan.

In the same pan over medium-high heat, warm 1 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the lemon slices and sear until browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off the excess and reserving the marinade. Working in batches, sear the chicken, skin side down, until golden brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to another plate.

Pour the broth into the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Stir in the reserved marinade and add the chicken and any juices. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the chicken is opaque throughout, about 40 minutes.

Add the olives, the reserved lemon slices and the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice to the pan with the chicken. Cover and simmer until the chicken is falling-off-the-bone tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Garnish the stew with chopped cilantro and parsley and serve immediately.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Persian Fried Chicken Smothered in Peaches with Curry CousCous

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So what happens when I didn’t make it to the grocery store before the arctic polar vortex hits,  the East Coast region? Well, I was left to forage in the nether regions of my  refrigerator, freezer and pantry with such a diverse mix of ingredients.

And what happened was the creation of dish inspired by my Grand’s kitchen; the Sunday Chicken Smothered in Peaches.

So, my version of my Grands’s beloved chicken dish  is the perfect  marriage of multicultural cuisines from the Deep American South, North Africa, The Middle East and India:Persian Fried Chicken Smothered in Peaches and Almonds on a bed of Minted Curry Couscous. I think I out did myself with  this global fusion dish!

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Enjoy!

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor

Orzo with Sauteed Collard Greens

Recipe Adapted from
Nature’s Greens, W. P. Rawl & Sons, Inc.

 

Photo Credit: Marti, 2015

Collard greens have been cooked and used for centuries. The Southern style of cooking of greens came with the arrival of African slaves to the southern colonies and the need to satisfy their hunger and provide food for their families. As the slave diet began to evolve and spread when slaves entered the plantation houses as cooks, their African dishes, using the foods available in the region in which they lived in, began to evolve into present-day Southern cooking, becoming a huge part of the Southern American culinary tradition known as “soul food”.

This recipe uses collard greens in a unique way, borrowing for the Italian culture with the use of orzo, tomatoes and dried Italian herbs, which comes together for a quick and easy meal that can be served family style for a hungry crowd, that is both healthy and tasty at the same time.

Enjoy!

Serves 6

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked orzo
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1 pound collard greens, washed and chopped *
Juice of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add orzo and return to boil. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the pasta has thoroughly cooked, about 6 to 9 minutes. Drain pasta and return to the pot, add the Italian herbs and gently toss to mix. Cover and set aside.

In another large stock pot, heat on medium and  add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add garlic and tomatoes and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the garlic and tomatoes and set aside.

Add the remaining tablespoons of olive oil to the same stock pot. Add the collard greens and toss to coat. Saute the greens for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the orzo, garlic, tomatoes and lemon juice. Stir and continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in Parmesan cheese and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature with a rustic crusty bread, if desired.

Cook’s Notes:
* If fresh collard green are not available, an excellent alternative substitute are the commercially available “Natures Green Collard Greens” which can be found in the produce section of most local supermarkets and grocery stores.

For a variation, you can add sweet Italian sausage to this dish. Pinch little pieces of the sausage from the casing and roll them into 1-inch balls. Brown them in a skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Remove the  sausage meatballs out of skillet and set aside.  Following the recipe, add the sausage to the stock pot when adding the orzo, tomatoes, collard greens and lemon juice. Stir to combine and proceed with the recipe.

TODAY.com Parenting Team FC Contributor