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Thursday, October 13, 2011

African style braised chicken

For dinner tonight I made African style braised chicken, nothing Finnish about this recipe except that I've adapted it from a cookbook written by Judith Finlayson!  I think it must be possible to find a Finnish connection to most things, if you try hard enough...

Speaking of Finlayson, I would love to be in Tampere at the Finlayson outlet right now, we really need some new towels.  The ones I bought there in 1993 just wore out!

You can find the original recipe here.  I found it in the Chicago Tribune a long time ago, it is one of my kids' favorite dishes.  I don't really follow the original recipe, though, so I'll post what I do here so my kids can make it, too.

4 pounds (1.8 kilos) of  boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 onions  (I used 2 tablespoons of dried minced onion this time)
4 garlic cloves (I used 2 tablespoons of dried minced garlic this time)
1 bay leaf

1/2 cup (1.25 dl) of tomato sauce
1/2 cup (1.25 dl) of water
1 chicken bouillon cube

peppers and vegetables

1/2 cup (1.25 dl) of peanut butter
juice of one lemon

First, I browned about 4 pounds (1.8 kilos) of  boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  I used a heavy pan to do this, cooking slowly until the thighs were browned well on all sides.  If I had used fresh onions and garlic, I would have cooked it with the chicken, but all I had was dried so I added it later.  If you use fresh, add 2 chopped onions and 4 minced garlic cloves.  Make sure and turn the chicken and cook it slowly so it doesn't burn.  Then I took them out and drained them on paper towels and also wiped most of the oil out of the skillet.

I deglazed the pan with 1/2 cup (1.25 dl) of tomato sauce and 1/2 cup (1.25 dl) of water.  To deglaze, just pour in all the liquid and scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the dried-on bits off.  Season with a bay leaf (take the bay leaf out before serving, you can't eat it!), one chicken bouillon cube and pepper.

I put the chicken in the bottom of a crockpot slow cooker and poured the sauce over it.  Then I added some vegetables that I found in the garden...a few green beans, some cherry tomatoes, and a variety of peppers, both hot and sweet.  It is easy to adjust the heat of the dish by omitting the hot peppers.  I leave the vegetables whole when possible in case one of the kids wants to sort them out.  I also added a generous two tablespoons each of dried minced garlic and dried minced onion at this point.

This cooked on low for about 3 hours (if you don't cook the chicken as well in the skillet as I did, you should cook it 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high).  When it is done the chicken will shred easily with a fork.

Just before serving, add the juice of one lemon and 1/2 cup (1.25 dl) of peanut butter.  Stir well and serve over rice.

If for some reason you couldn't add peanut butter, this dish would still be delicious without it, but I would still add the lemon juice and maybe a tablespoon of brown sugar (to taste).

My family loves this dish, and I hope yours will, too!

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