Flavors of the Middle East Chicken
It’s been hot around here lately. Not as hot as where the fires have been blazing in the San Bernardino Mountains outside of Los Angeles. That’s a bit too close to home… it’s where our niece the forester is working round the clock to help coordinate efforts and generally keep things in check. All cell phone communication is being discouraged so we only have the official website to rely on for information. The last bit of info was that the fires are almost 50% contained. We heard that my Novio’s brother let out a whoop that almost knocked him out of his chair when he read this update.
Our niece, Kayanna is a tough cookie and I know that as soon as she gets back to her place she’ll want to cook, no matter how exhausted she is. Cooking’s kind of life-affirming, you know.
So I’ll join her in her efforts. I prefer to think of my kitchen style as assembling instead of cooking. Now that we’re in warm weather and because we’re celebrating things getting under control, I want to assemble flavors that are warm but most definitely not fiery. I love to experiment with seasonings and ratios. This combo is inspired by Tunisian, Moroccan and Ethiopian cuisines, with the warm-hued reds and yellows of cumin, pepper flakes and turmeric livening up all the little taste buds.
Let’s start with a very reliable trio of onion, garlic and ginger.
Chop everything up finely.
Yes, I said squirt. I use this tube of Italian tomato paste that I love and I’ve praised before on this site. You won’t find a little can of half-used tomato paste covered with a piece of aluminum foil in my fridge (that may or may not be acting as a Petri dish for some unsavory little critters). At least not in the last several years, you won’t.
Take this wondrous mixture and shmear, yes, I said shmear, it all over the rinsed and dried chicken pieces.
‘FLAVORS OF THE MIDDLE EAST’ CHICKEN
Ingredients:2 lbs. chicken breasts 2 T. olive oil 1 small onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 1-inch piece ginger, grated 1 T. turmeric 1 t. cumin 1/2 t. coriander 1/4 t. salt 1/8 t. red pepper flakes 2 T. tomato paste 2 T. chicken/vegetable broth (can use either red or white white instead)
Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C).
Wash and pat chicken breasts dry with paper towels.
Heat olive oil in saute pan. Add chopped onion and ginger and cook over medium heat until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute a half-minute. Add all the seasonings and quickly saute for another minute.
Drop tomato paste into center of mixture and quickly incorporate it. Add broth (or wine). Saute over medium-high heat a few minutes so that you have a thick mixture.
Place chicken in a greased baking dish. Distribute mixture equally over the chicken. Using the back of a spoon, spread mixture over the tops and sides of each piece.
Bake for 25 minutes. Check to see that meat is just cooked through. Tent with foil out of the oven for a few minutes longer.
Makes 4-6 servings.