Chicken with chile and chocolate

Chicken with chile and chocolate


SERVES 6–8 P C
1 whole garlic bulb
1 chicken, weighing 4 lb 8 oz/2 kg
4 fresh mint sprigs
½ tsp black peppercorns
2–3 cloves
salt
warm cornmeal tortillas and guacamole, to serve
Sauce
3–4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 lb 2 oz/500 g fresh or canned tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1 ripe plantain or unripe banana, peeled and cut into chunks
⅔ cup blanched almonds, toasted and crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp allspice berries
1 soft cornmeal tortilla, torn into pieces, or 1 tbsp tortilla chips
1¾ oz/50 g dried chiles, seeded, soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes, and drained
2 tbsp raisins
finely grated rind of 1 orange
2 tbsp cocoa powder or 1¾ oz/50 g good-quality semisweet chocolate

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C. Score around the center of the garlic bulb. Cut the chicken into 12 pieces, rinse, and place in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, skimming off any foam, then add the garlic, mint, peppercorns, cloves, and a little salt. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30–40 minutes, until the chicken is tender. Transfer to an ovenproof dish. Strain the stock and set aside.

2. To make the sauce, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet. Add the onion and cook over low heat for 10–15 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reheat the oily juices in the pan, add the bell pepper, and cook for 5–6 minutes. Add the tomatoes and plantain and heat until bubbling, then reduce the heat, cover, and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, until the plantain is tender.

3. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium–high heat. Add the almonds and spices to toast, shake the skillet frequently until golden. Transfer to a food processor and pulse. Set aside.

4. Tip the onion and tomato mixture into a food processor. Add the tortilla, chiles, and soaking water and process until smooth. You may need to add a little of the chicken stock.

5. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and reheat. Add the crushed nuts and spices and stir-fry for 1–2 minutes. Add the tomato mixture and heat until bubbling, reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes. Add the raisins, orange rind, and 4 cups of the stock. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 20 minutes, until the liquid is reduced by a third. Stir in the cocoa and heat gently.

6. Pour the sauce over the chicken in the dish, cover, and cook in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes. Serve with warm tortillas and guacamole.






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