When precious time is against me and I feel like tearing my weave out, it’s always great to know that I have one less thing to worry about. Yes guys, I’m talking about my culinary needs; we all have them. It’s such a delight to return to the nest after a day of laboring and breath a sense of relieve knowing that something delicious is awaiting.
And, that’s what happened the previous evening. Like always, I like to cook a little extra (well, that’s what my mother used to say, “cook an extra dumpling!”). A few days ago, I made a mad chop of some skinless (bone-in) legs and thighs. I seasoned them with salt, black pepper, cumin, curry powder, crushed ginger, pimento (all spice), thyme, onion, crushed garlic. These were marinated overnight.
In a sturdy skillet I added a couple teaspoons of coconut oil. Curried chicken was cooked under low to medium heat until the flesh fell from the bone and still kept its integrity. I served same with steamed Jasmine rice and a medley of steamed veggies. Left-overs of chicken and rice were cooled and placed in the freezer.
Fast forward to my left-overs. I’m so elated that I had them stored away. These were defrosted overnight in the refrigerator. All I did on serving my mouth-watering curried chicken was to reheat in microwave oven. With a quick sautéed of baby kale and spinach, my curried chicken meal was resurrected.
The fresh greens gave it a brand new appearance and made it look entirely new and inviting. My chicken stood the test of time and didn’t get disintegrated in the succulent gravy. It tasted even more delicious. Moreover, the addition of the contrasting sweet fried plantain gave the dish a beautiful balance.
Sunday’s supper was quite a treat. Actually, I must have consumed this popular Jamaican dish hundreds of time since childhood. Now, that’s a lot of chicken going on! Anyway, when I laid eyes on my skinless and bone-in chicken thighs, I knew exactly how I was going to prep and cook same.
The previous night, I chopped my thighs in bite-size pieces. Then, I marinated them with a drizzle of coconut oil, salt, black pepper, cumin, curry powder, crushed ginger, garlic and pimento. Fast forward to cooking time, I made sure to bring chicken to room temperature.
In a sturdy skillet, a small drizzle of olive oil was added on medium heat. Chicken was placed within and a quick sautay was done in order to coat chicken pieces and seal in flavors. To that I added chopped onions, celery, a couple of sprigs of thyme along with a splash of house vinegar.
Cold water was used to cover chicken and the lid was placed on skillet. Chicken simmered for approximately 30 to 35 minutes under low to medium heat making sure to turn over pieces. In addition, extra liquid was added as needed. Chicken was cooked until fork tender. The aromas were very intoxicating and filled my space. And, the flavors of the spices and herbs were bold and beckoned me in.
After gravy was reduced to the right consistency, I allowed chicken to rest for a few minutes; then, this was served with a garlic steamed asparagus
and left-rice whole-grain rice. Me and my palate were taken on a trip to a familiar place in culinary history. We were extremely happy.
I got a tad tired of the usual chicken and fish dishes. I craved for a meal that was bold and pungent in flavors yet delicious and mouth-watering. And so, my culinary mind led me to an old favorite, curried goat (mutton). This dish is very popular in kitchens across my native island domain, Jamaica. I have consumed same quite a number of times as a child as well as an adult.
Part of the work was done by my butcher. Although mutton was chopped up in sizable pieces, I further cut up in even smaller bite-size portions. Goat was seasoned with:
Salt and black pepper to taste
Crushed pimento(all spice)
In a stock pot, a drizzle of coconut oil was added along with goat.
Goat was sautéed for a few minutes under medium heat. Two table spoons of Jamaican white rum were added.
Then cold tap water was added to cover meat along with thyme, additional crushed garlic, onions celery.
The lid was placed on pot and mutton slowly simmered under low to medium heat for approximately two and half hours.
Additional water was added as needed every 20 to 30 minutes.
Minced scotch bonnet peppers, scallion, chopped onion were added to dish so as to further add extra spice.
Curried goat was served with steamed Jasmine rice and sautéed vegetables. The finished dish was bold, delicious and succulent.
On the Chinese calendar, this year (2015) is slanted as ‘the year of the Goat’. Based on astronomers, it’s supposed to be one for good luck. And, I could always do with an extra dose of good luck anytime.
Anyway, in honor of the goat, I’ve decided to make a dish called braised curried goat. This dish is certainly one from my roots. Over the years, I must have consumed same repeatedly. Without a doubt, in Jamaica, the beginning of the year (New Year’s Day), every householder cooks and indulges this popular dish.
My dear uncle Dan was and is still a farmer in a rural village of a parish called St. Mary, Jamaica. He rears goats and other farm animals for consumption. Uncle Dan was and is still a generous man. He often doled out sizable portions of goat meat during the holidays. Oh, I can still remember the delicious and mouth-watering dishes prepared from those goat meats.
And speaking of goat, this brings back even more memories as a girl in my island home of Jamaica. My next door neighbor kept a female goat. Let’s call her Nanny. Looking back, I’m babbled this guy was allowed to keep a goat in a residential community. But, I guess that’s what sometimes happens in a laid-back island domain.
The thing is, that goat went off and got herself pregnant. Well, her owner was the ‘love guru’ and arranged the affair. Each day, he took her out to pasture and subsequently Nanny mated and had baby goats (kids). As a girl, it was fun for me and my siblings to stretch across the fence and feed and pet them. Those kids were so cute.
After a while though, things became rather troublesome. Those cuties grew into adults and created quite a mayhem on a daily basis. Their baaing grew louder and louder in the community. They even ate and sometimes destroyed plants in neighbors’ yard. I do think that man and his family bribed the entire residents by doling out fresh goat’s milk.
So, back to my braised curried goat. I fetched a couple a pounds from the butcher at my neighborhood indoor farmer’s market. The cost was $3.99 per pound. Although they were ready for cooking size-wise, I further cut them into smaller portions.
Goat (2 lbs)
Curry powder (2 tsp or to your preference)
Cumin (1 tsp)
All spice(pimento) (1tsp)
Root ginger (1tsp)
Scotch bonnet pepper (1)
Jamaica white rum (2 tbsp)
Salt and pepper to taste
Thyme (2 sprigs)
Irish potato (2 small)
Coconut oil (2 tbsp)
Soy sauce (2tsp)
Cold tap water
After a quick rinse of goat meat, it was marinated overnight with crushed garlic, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and curry powder.
Mutton was brought to room temperature. Then, in a sturdy hot skillet with a few drops of coconut oil, mutton was added with a teaspoon of finely chopped ground ginger.
On medium heat, meat wassauteed for about five minutes. Then rum was added.
Chopped seasonings and thyme were also added. Then, cold tap water was added to cover meat.
Lid was placed on skillet under low to medium heat. Whenever water evaporated additional water was added until meat was fork tender.
Approximately fifteen minutes into cooking process, add chopped Irish potatoes. These will aid into thickening of gravy.
A taste test of dish is done and if additional seasoning or spices are needed these are added.
Guys, I served my good luck dish with steamed Jasmine rice and steamed veggies. And, like a true Jamaican, I also had a serving of avocado and fried plantains. I’m feeling lucky!
This time of the year brings on a ‘mixed-bag’ of weather patterns. The past few days have been very dark, cool, and precipitous in South Florida. The sun has disappeared for a few days and makes me feel like I’m in a Maine or New Hampshire territory.
With days like these, one can’t help but to crave warm and comforting dishes like a clam chowder. Well, I’m not a lover of clam, so my culinary mind went to the my freezer. Inside this freezer, tucked in the rear are some left-over servings of baked ham from past Christmas(have to use that up). So, instead of clam, I made yours truly ham chowder with a Caribbean and a Mediterranean twist.
Left-over Ham (1/4 cup)diced
Crispy bacon (2 strips)
Irish potato (1 large) diced
Cauliflower (3/4 cup)
Celery (2 stalks) diced
Loose corn (1/2 cup)
Onion (Med.) diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Coconut milk (1 cup)
Paprika (1/4 tsp)
Curry powder (pinch)
Corn starch (1 tsp)
Water (3 cups)
All spice (pimento) (1/4 tsp)
Thyme (1 tsp)
In a sturdy stock pot, render bacon slices and set aside.
Drain excess bacon fat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and add diced onions, celery, chopped cauliflower, loose corn, etc. and slowly stir removing all the bits.
Season with salt, pepper, paprika, and other seasonings along with thyme.
Add Coconut milk and water.
Place lid on pot and allow to simmer until tender.
Mix corn starch (if needed) to provide extra thickness).
Few minutes to completion of dish add diced left-over ham.
I served my Caribbean/Mediterranean ham chowder with a garnish of parsley and bacon bits along with a generous and warm piece of crusty baguette. The flavors were bold, flavorful and super delicious. I was over the moon as I watched the ducks did their dips.
What do you know? On this cool and marvelous Florida day, the sun has chosen to raise its brilliant head. Now, it’s perfect. Guys, be kind to your loved ones as well as your beautiful palates.