Friday, November 23, 2007

Here Comes Santa Claus

We have a new word for the cute file.

Brendan just asked me how Santa gets down the jimby. I'm consistently amazed and confused how he can correctly pronounce and use like mischievous when most adults mispronounce it, but simple words often seem to be misheard and/or mispronounced. Still, jimby's a pretty cute mispronunciation even if I am biased.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Home Cookin'

Scott and I were supposed to host our neighborhood supper club last night. The group meets once a month and we take turns hosting. The hosts provide the entree and everyone else brings a side dish, appetizer, or dessert. We usually try to do a theme, although we're not super consistent with that. The idea really is simply to get together with our friends from the neighborhood without the kids and have a relaxing meal and good conversation.

Because both boys were sick all week and I had work, I wanted to reschedule, but one of the other couples offered up their home if I could still cook. Worked great for me, so I still got to make the dish I've been dying to make for ages.

It's a very old traditional Southern recipe called Chicken Country Captain. It's a curried chicken stew that is served over rice with a variety of condiments to put on top ranging from shredded coconut and chutney, to a yogurt sauce, green onions, chopped boiled egg, bacon, and toasted almonds and peanuts. It has always sounded so delicious to me and I've been eager to try it, but it's a lot of work and a big dish, so it's not something I've wanted to whip up on a Wednesday night.

I used Scott Peacock's recipe from what has become one of my favorite cookbooks.

But this recipe from Food and Wine is very similar. Peacock's recipe omits the mace. I just realized, too, that I failed to put in the bay leaves for which his recipe calls. Still, it turned into quite a nice dish. I received a lot of compliments on it. If you're not a fan of Indian curries, you probably won't like this, but I really enjoyed it.

Chicken Country Captain (from Food and Wine):

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
One 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 green bell peppers, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
One 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup dried currants
1/2 cup blanched whole almonds, lightly toasted and chopped
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a shallow bowl, mix the flour with the paprika, 2 teaspoons of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the chicken and cook over moderately high heat until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet and repeat with the remaining chicken.
Pour off the oil from the skillet, then melt the butter in it. Add the bell peppers, onion and parsley; cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, 12 minutes. Add the garlic, curry powder and mace; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 4 minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juices and the stock; simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Add the currants. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the sauce to a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Arrange the chicken on top, skin side up. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until the breasts are just cooked through. Transfer the breasts to a plate and cover loosely with foil. Bake the remaining chicken for 1 hour longer, or until tender and the sauce is thickened. Return the chicken breasts to the sauce and bake for 5 minutes longer, or until heated through. Sprinkle the almonds on top and serve.
MAKE AHEAD The baked chicken can be refrigerated overnight.

SERVE WITH Steamed white rice.