Wednesday, July 28, 2010

"Brazilian" "Chicken" Stew

It's been a little while since I posted a recipe. Here's one I made up this week after watching a PBS show about Brazilian food. They appear to eat well.

"Brazilian" "Chicken" Stew
1 onion
1 bell pepper, any color (I used green because they cost half as much)
~2 tablespoons oil or butter or combo thereof
~1 tablespoon minced ginger
2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
~1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
~2 tablespoons tomato paste
~1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can coconut milk (the full-fat kind is truly more delicious)
~1/2 can of water
1 bag of Quorn Chik'n Tenders (Quorn is my favorite purveyor of fake meat; this is one of the few varieties that doesn't contain gluten)
Juice of half a lime, or the full lime, if it's not very juicy
Handful of chopped cilantro
Cooked rice for serving
Here's the process: Heat up the fat in a large-ish pot or pan (I used a stainless steel pseudo-wok) over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, chop the onion and pepper, then add to the pan. I like to add a little salt right away as it helps the onions cook down faster. Sautee, stirring occasionally, for five minutes or so, or until the onion is translucent and the pepper looks tender. Throw in the red pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic and sautee for a minute or so more; it should be fragrant but not burny. (If you don't have red pepper flakes, some other heat source -- cayenne, fresh chopped jalepeno -- will do. Hot sauce, such as Tabasco, would be good too, but I'd add it later.) Add the tomato paste (I used about a third to a half of one of those tiny cans) and brown sugar, stir it around and cook for a minute or so more. At this point you might want to add a little more salt and some black pepper. Next, add the diced tomatoes, juice and all, and the coconut milk. It will be pretty thick from the tomato paste and coco milk, so I add a little water to thin it out. Bring this to a simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary so it isn't boiling away, then let it hang out for a little bit. In the meantime make yourself useful by chopping the cilantro, setting the table and whatnot. If you haven't made the rice yet, by all means make the rice. (See below for my rice-cooking method.) After the stew has "married" for five to ten minutes, taste it and adjust the seasonings. If I were you I'd add the lime at this point since that will affect things. With all that yummy tomato essence and coconut fat it should be highly delicious; if it's not, you probably didn't add enough salt, young one. Rookie mistake! If it tastes too acidic, add a little more sugar. When you're satisfied, dump in the phony chicken and most of the cilantro, give it a stir, then cover and let cook another five minutes or so to heat through. (If you want to make this with shrimp or chunks of fish instead, follow the same method.) Then serve on the rice with a little more cilantro for garnish if you're fancy like that.

BONUS: The Best Way to Cook Rice

This is how I make rice now, I'll never go back. Use a decent size pot even if you're not making very much. Dump some rice into the pot, I don't bother to measure -- about a cup if you're trying to serve a few people, a little more if you want leftovers. (I highly recommend you use basmati rice for maximum deliciousness.) Then add water -- don't bother to measure! Make sure there's at least three times as much water as rice, doesn't matter if there's more. Just don't fill the pot all the way to the top, because then it will boil over. Then add a good pinch of salt (more if you're using lots of water) and put it on high heat, no lid. Keep an eye on it -- when it starts to simmer you might want to turn the heat down to medium, because rice can boil over really fast. Basically you just want to bring it to a boil and then let it go for about ten minutes; don't put the lid on or anything, just let it boil around like pasta. Keep an eye on it and when it starts to look like cooked rice, pull out a few grains with a fork to test. When it's done to your liking, drain in a mesh strainer, then dump back into the pot, cover and let sit until you're ready to eat. While this method is a little more active than the absorption method, you don't have to measure or time anything and it never comes out waterlogged or burnt on the bottom.


  1. dawg if you think your boiling method is better than a good rice cooker then you are indeed throwing down.

  2. I boil the water then add the rice then turn the heat off then put a lid on it and let it sit there until I'm ready to eat. Try this method. It is fool proof. And easy and basically the same way they cook it in China which is where I learned it except I don't have a bamboo basket.

  3. Allen: Well, I don't have a rice cooker. Since my method doesn't require buying specialized equipment, it wins!

    RK: Intriguing -- do you have to measure for this method? or just throw some rice in some water?

  4. I've always used 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice no matter the rice and no matter the directions on the bag. Always works.

  5. Rice cookers do have the disdvantage that the rice can stick together on the bottom when it is in the Keep Warm mode.
    Your method is pretty much akin to the boil in the bag method but cheaper. The only thing is though that you have to watch the rice whereas you can just leave it if you have a rice cooker.

  6. where do you draw the line with specialized equipment? do you have a toaster?

  7. We have a toaster OVEN, which isn't specialized! B/c you can warm all kinds of stuff up in it. In general I'm more down with specialized equipment the cheaper and smaller it is.

  8. actually i never use my toaster. but only because i don't have one.