- Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Cooking Memories - Caribbean Chicken Risotto
Summit Musings is in danger of becoming a food blog, it seems. Lately I've been hiding from the heat and humidity by staying indoors under the AC, clearing and de-cluttering my home and waiting for fall. This great clear out includes going through 40+ years of recipes. I look at the handwritten recipes scribbled on cards and scraps of paper and they take me back to different times and places in my life.
Example: Caribbean Chicken Risotto. In the early 1970s I lived in the West Indies on St. Kitts, one of the small islands of the Eastern Caribbean. I was a Peace Corps volunteer on this island for three years, teaching primary students at St. Joseph Infant School. Part of being a Peace Corps volunteer and, hopefully, a goodwill ambassador for the U.S., was that we would live among the people that we worked with, not in little American enclaves with the other volunteers assigned to the island. I rented a house in the capital city of Basseterre in a little community by the sea called Pond's Pasture.
One of the great challenges of living in an unfamiliar culture was to figure out how to cook local foods. There were no fast food franchises transplanted from the U.S.--not that we could have afforded them on our living allowance(think it was about $120 U.S. dollars monthly). So, if we wanted to eat, we had to go native. Luckily, a couple of very kind women from my neighborhood taught me the ropes. I walked with them down to the sea in front of my home early in the morning and learned to get the attention of fisherman who sold their night's catch to preferred customers. On Saturday morning I got up early--no matter how late I danced on Friday night--and went with my neighbor to an open air market where she taught me how to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. We even went into butcher stalls were we bought fresh meats, mostly beef and goat. Armed with all this, I only needed to go to a local shop for staples like rice and dried beans and peas. I was then ready for my lessons in Caribbean cooking.
I knew how to cook plain southern foods when I went into the Peace Corps. On St. Kitts I had to learn how to cook what was available at the market--everything from scratch. I learned to use unusual fruits like papaya, mango, soursops, guava, and plantains to stretch small bits of protein. My cooking tutor also taught me to use fresh herbs and spices with delicious results. Chicken risotto was one of the first recipes I learned to make and I still make it today. Only difference on St. Kitts, we had to wait for the "back and neck" boat to show up in the harbor. Chickens were not grown on the island and had to be imported. The Kittians preferred dark meat of chicken, hence the "back and neck" boat! Here's how to make chicken and rice, Caribbean style--just as delicious today as 40 years ago as you can see from the photo above:
Caribbean Chicken Risotto
Marinate chicken pieces (I used thighs) for 3-4 hours with 1 med. onion, finely chopped; 2-3 T minced garlic;and 1 large green bell pepper, diced. Pour enough sherry (I use Holland House cooking sherry off the grocery shelf. It's not gourmet, but it does fine.) to cover the chicken and vegetables. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 3-4 hours.
Spray the bottom of a deep cooking pot with Pam. Heat. Lift chicken pieces out of the marinade. Brown lightly. If you use chicken w/o skin, you may need to add a bit of oil to the pot to brown properly. When chicken is lightly browned, add drained vegetables from marinade. Cook until tender, but not browned as garlic will get bitter.
Add 2 medium cans petit diced tomato(about 30 oz), 4 c chicken broth and remaining marinade to chicken. Cook at a simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes, or until chicken is almost tender. Then add 2 c rice, either white long grain or brown. Cook until liquid in pot has evaporated and rice is tender--20 min. white, 30 min. brown.
Serve with sauteed cabbage and green peas. If you love this dish here, just think how delicious it would be on an island. Next time, maybe I'll tell you how to make goat "water". Not quite ready for that? Well, maybe we'll do pumpkin soup or black cake?