OK... First, Joanne, from EATS WELL WITH OTHERS has a MUCH better photo of this dish on her original posting than mine. She has the spectacular rustic black plates, while I have the groovy Marcia Brady Melmac dishes that came with my condo away from home. But besides the glow in the dark color of my dishes, Joanne's chicken was served as a whole piece, while I chose to slice mine up bite size.
But, I am ahead of myself... Welcome to my contribution to this month TASTE & CREATE . I was paired with the ever popular Joanne from EATS WELL WITH OTHERS. This was going to be easy, as I knew I had several of her posts in my "I need to cook this" file. I find Joanne's type of blog among my very favorite. Always an interesting recipe, but she also tells wonderful stories that match up well.
I love bloggers! I was new to the world of blogging (and to cooking) just a few months ago. I went from hamburgers and hot dogs once a month to a 3 meal a day, 7 days a week cook. I needed help, and I found it. I am always thrilled to find new blogs. Without bloggers who provide insight you do not get from books, I would not be as brave as I am in the kitchen. Last month I was introduced to a wonderful opportunity. TASTE & CREATE is a cultural exchange program for bloggers. Click on the logo to the left, but the premise is simple... Once you sign up, monthly, you are paired with another blogger. Hunt down a recipe that you find appealing and cook and post the results. You are introduced to a new recipe, and at the same time, because you dig a little deeper into a new blog, you find bits of personal information that gets you a new blogger buddy!
Like I said, I have already filed several of her recipes as potentials. I just looked at the first on the list and knew I had a winner...
Regional Recipes - Chicken With Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey (Djaj Bil Assal)
Here's what she said to do...
Chicken with Caramelized Baby Onions and Honey
Serves 4, adapted from Claudia Roden's Arabesque (an AMAZING cookbook)
1 lb pearl onions
2 tbsp olive oil
a pinch of saffron
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 lb chicken (I used breasts this time but would go with thighs next time)
salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 bell pepper
Peel the pearl onions. Chop the onion and the bell pepper.
Saute the chopped onion and pepper until softened in the oil over a medium heat in a pan or casserole large enough to hold the chicken in one layer. Stir in the saffron, ginger and cinnamon, then put in the chicken pieces. Season with salt and pepper and turn to brown them lightly all over.
Add about 1 cup water and cook, covered, over a low heat, turning the pieces over, for 15 minutes, or until the chicken breasts are done. Lift out the breasts and put them to one side. Add the shallots or baby onions.
Stir the honey into the pan. Check the seasoning. You need quite a bit of pepper to mitigate the sweetness. Cook, uncovered, until all the water has evaporated and the onions are brown, caramelized.
Return the chicken to the pan. Spoon the onions on top of them and heat through. Serve..
Well, I was close... very close. Actually, I had a half of one of those rotisserie chickens left. I am growing to love those little cheap buggers. I have talked about it before, but the difference in price between one of these pre-seasoned, pre-cooked, vrs a raw chicken is nearly double the cost for the raw bird. Makes no sense to me, but I have decided to embrace this quirk of the island. So, instead of cooking the meat in the sauce, I was simply warming already cooked chicken.
And it worked GREAT of course. The gravy was filled with flavors, coating not only the onions, but the chicken as well. Onions and bell peppers (I used a red pepper) have just enough bite to balance the sweetness of the honey.by warming the cooked chicken over the simmering water, it steams the chicken warm, making it moist and tender. A winner indeed!
Joanne was after a regional Middle eastern look and pairing for her recipe, so she served the chicken and vegetables with a dirty rice. I, as usual, was blessed with ignorance and had no preconceived notion of what this dish should have been paired with. I decided that the chicken and onions would have a sweet caramelized taste from the honey and long cooked onions, so I paired with a wonderful Cajun spiced corn bread casserole. It was a nice mixture, and made a terrific meal.
This was my third experience with TASTE & CREATE. I have enjoyed all three, and highly recommend you all give this a try. It is a great way to get to know new bloggers. But, this pairing was a little different. I have been following Joanne for months. reading each post, and judging from my comment section, she reads my posts as well. But even old friends can be seen in a new light. I read over the last few months worth of posts in preparation of this musing and rediscovered why I enjoy her blog so much.
Joanne is entertaining, challenging, fun to read and personal. Her recipes (when not involving Tofu) are rich and full of flavors. She challenges me and is what I would like to be as a blogger. I am humbled at the possibilities of what she could discover on my blog worth her efforts, and wish her well with the challenge...
But Joanne, speaking as someone old enough to be your grandfather (if my daughter were a tramp that got pregnant at 15, and I was a randy lad of 15 precociously sowing my oats (well... not oats, but I digress, you get my point)... Speaking as a disinterested third party, you recently did a wonderfully well written post about your desire to have the "matchmaker cab driver" do his magic. In that very same post, you made a wonderful Burger and then paired it with Brussels sprouts. Really... Burgers and Brussels sprouts and trouble getting a date. I was able to do the math. But just to drive my point home, you have done 8 posts in April... 2 of which involved TOFU. Joanne, stop the insanity!
Use this opportunity that the gods have placed in front of you. You are a science kind of gal, conduct an experiment...
You must have 6 guys in your life that you would like to have ask you out. They may be the Starbucks guy that makes your Grande every morning, a childhood friend you just can't shake or the guy sitting next to you in anatomy class that you share a liver with. Randomly divide the 6 into two groups of three. Invite a group over for your finest tofu and Brussels sprout meal (tell them it is some extra credit project). Really give it your best. Be creative and serve the best tofu and Brussels sprouts you could imagine.
Invite the other three over for a meal of...
Moink Balls appetizers,
Spareribs, baked, I know you do not have a smoker, but if you wanted "finding a man" to be as big a priority as finishing med school, you would have already bought a smoker... but I digress again...
Beans, best you've ever had
Potato Salad, again, best you've ever had.
I would bet that 2 of those 6 guys would have you on a date before you could dissect a frog. I would also bet those two came from the same menu group. Stop the tofu and Brussels sprouts insanity before you are an old maid.
You do not need a Matchmaker Cab Driver, you just need to stop making tofu and Brussels sprouts.
I have plenty more advice to offer everyone from President Obama (go to Mars, fund NASA) to the producers of Dancing With the Stars (Nichelle Nichols (Can anyone forget the actress who played Uhura performing her sexy fan dance from Star Trek 5)), but I need to hunt down that tongue in cheek font.
Good luck Joanne, the Moink Balls are now in your court.