Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Chicken Tropicana for wintry weather

All we need, really, is a change from a near frigid to a tropical attitude of mind. – Marjory Stoneman Douglas

No winter weather inside this pot. Nope. None at all.

We’re 24 hours away from what Environment Canada is calling a “weather bomb.” Apparently in a day and a half I will be looking out on a front yard that has up to 50 cm of snow. So much for spring.

Not a whole lot of ingredients have
to be bought.
Firmly in the "got lemons, make lemonade camp," this recipe will at least make you think of tropical places and summer fun. Sometimes the best cure for bad weather is to make the best of what you can do inside. Spring will come. I guarantee it.

Cooking is always therapeutic when a snowstorm hits. A tried and true favourite for me is to make bread. There’s something about the smell of homemade bread that can drive away even the deepest weather blues.

So is the smell of fried chicken. Double down with mango and pineapple and you’ve got a recipe that will make you entirely forget what’s going on outside.

There are a couple caveats with this recipe, but they both have the same basis: sugar. 

There’s a lot of natural sugar in pineapple and mango, so you can easily burn the chicken when you fry it after it’s marinated. Usually you can fry chicken on medium high or even high. Not this. Use medium temperature.

The same holds true when you are reducing the sauce. It can start to stick if you don’t stir it occasionally. So watch the pot.

This recipe takes a little while, but what else will you have to do while the snow is piling up?

The chicken marinating. Note the use of a glazed clay pot.
Chicken Tropicana
Marinade: 2 hours  |  Cook: 40 min  |  Serves 3-4
6-8 chicken thighs
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cups cubed mango, can be frozen
2 limes
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp cumin seed
1 L pineapple juice
salt and pepper, to taste
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1 tsp sugar, optional
1/4 cup cilantro

Place the diced onion in the bottom of a non-reactive pan (non-metal). Layer the chicken on top, then the mango, chilli and cumin. 

Pour enough pineapple juice in to just come to the top of the chicken. Squeeze the juice from one lime on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Marinate for 2 hours on the kitchen counter, or overnight in refrigerator.

After marinating, remove the chicken and fry skin side up over medium heat in a sauté pan that has a lid. As the chicken fries, fat will render out. Cook until browned on both sides, but not cooked through. Watch that the chicken doesn’t burn. Remove to a plate.

Discard all the collected fat except for about 1 tablespoon. Add the marinade and tomatoes to the pan. Cover and cook on medium, stirring occasionally, until the mangoes and tomatoes have softened. Add more pineapple juice as needed to keep it as a liquid.

Once the sauce has reduced to small into chunks, nestle the chicken into the sauce, cover and cook on medium-low for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.

Remove the cover, turn heat to medium and cook until sauce has thickened. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper. Now is also the time to add the additional sugar if desired. Stir in the cilantro about 1 minute before serving. 

Just before serving, squeeze the juice from the remaining lime on top of the chicken. Serve with rice.


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