Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chicken with Spices and Sweet Potatoes

I thought of this right before I fell asleep one night last week. I'd say it was of divine origin, but actually I got the idea from Bill Buford's book Heat, which talks about a pre-Columbian Italian recipe of meat cooked with sweet red wine, orange zest, and spices. Here I've taken this and adulterated it with some post-1492 tomatoes and sweet potatoes. The recipe is slow, but it's really simple. Brown the chicken, braise the chicken, and then when you're close to done, add some sweet potatoes and carrots.

  • 2 chicken legs, split into drumsticks and thighs
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • half a 28oz can of tomatoes (or a smaller can), crushed
  • zest of an orange
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 2 sweet potatoes, preferably the white kind, in 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 heaping tsp. honey
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • salt, pepper

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat up 2 tbs. oil over medium-high heat, and brown the chicken on both sides. When you're done with this, remove the chicken, turn the heat down and cook the onions for about ten minutes with another tablespoon of olive oil, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken back to the pot along with the orange zest, spices, tomato, wine, and some salt. Bring the heat back up to get this simmering, and then put a lid slightly ajar on top of the pot and turn the heat to low. (If you're using a dutch oven, you might try cooking this in the oven at maybe 300 or 325 degrees.) Cook for an hour, adding more wine if it needs it (though it probably won't). Add the honey, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and cook until these are tender, another 20-30 minutes. If the dish is still liquidy, remove the lid and turn the heat up to dry it up a bit. Serve with bread.

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