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Sunday, December 14, 2008

i absolutely cannot believe...

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...that Christmas is in only two weeks. Less than two weeks, actually. Eleven days.


I'm so not ready.

I do, however, have a question for you all. One of our latest purchases since Lil Z's arrival is a video's not a super snazzy one (no HD for me, lol), but it's kinda fun. I've been mulling over the idea of doing a little 3-minute webisode for the blog....what do you guys think? Ridiculous self-indulgence? Another useless food-network-wannabe? Let me know. I'm going to put up a poll so you can even be totally anonymous if you want to tell me I'm ridiculous.

But hey, at least I'm not hungry.

I actually made this stew a couple of weeks ago (kinda breaks my own rule that I like my posts to be timely), but things have been in such a whirlwind since then that I didn't have the chance to tell you about it until tonight.

One of the nice bonuses of being at home on mat leave is that I can try out those recipes that have to cook for an hour or two...mind you, Lil Z is not especially tolerant of such endeavours, but if I can throw it in the oven and forget about it, it usually works out pretty well all around.

I know most people opt for stews and roasts in this kind of weather (a nice balmy -15C tonight, I believe - totally feel for you poor prairie peeps and your minus 40! YUCK). And while I acknowledge that the generic roast or stew is pretty tasty, this is a little something more. It delves into some of the more exotic flavours, without making have to roam much farther than a well-stocked fridge and pantry. This is definitely stick to your ribs kind of food - very hearty and the peanut sauce gives it a gloriously rich texture in your mouth. It's worth stocking up on natural peanut butter for this recipe...and frankly, it's worth stocking up on natural PB in general...the other stuff is more of a dessert than anything and chock full of hydrogenated gunk.

African-Inspired Peanut Stew with Spiced Couscous
Serves 8
african inspired peanut chicken stew with couscous

2/3 cup "all natural" peanut butter
1.5 cups WARM water
3 large chicken breasts
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 T ginger, finely chopped
1 (14- to 16-oz) can diced tomatoes including juice
1-2 teaspoons sri racha hot sauce
juice and zest of 1 lime
2 lbs carrots, chopped (this is what I had on hand - sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, turnip, etc. - those would all be fabulous in this)
1/3 c chopped cilantro
chopped roasted peanuts (for garnish)

1. In a large pot, heat the vegetable oil. Chop the chicken breasts (or use thighs or chicken pieces) in bite-size pieces (obviously, skip this step if you are using large chicken pieces). Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown the outside in the pan. Don't worry about cooking it through at this point.

2. Remove the browned chicken from the pan (just put it on a plate).

slightly browned chicken (yep, still kinda raw)

3. I like to chop ginger and garlic together in the mini-bowl of my food processor (much quicker!) - you don't have to do this though, hand chopping is just fine.
ginger garlic paste-to-be

Add the ginger and garlic to the pan, along with the onion, bell pepper and carrots.

4. While the veggies are starting to cook, dilute the peanut butter into the water (it will help if you nuke your PB a little bit first to soften it). Once the veggies have softened (about 5 mins), slowly add the peanut butter and the canned tomatoes. Also add a good squirt of sri racha (or other hot pepper paste) at this time.

making the sauce

5. Preheat your oven to 350F, toss the chicken back in the mixture and throw the whole thing into the oven for at least an hour (more is fine).

6. About half an hour before you want to serve, take the chicken out of the oven (and boil some water for the couscous). To the pot, add the juice and zest of one lime, the cilantro and some salt and pepper to taste. Also check to see if it needs more hot sauce (I like lots, but not everyone does). Let it bubble away madly on the stove to help reduce and thicken the sauce.

bubbling away in the oven

Garnish with some chopped peanuts and cilantro for serving! Also, I like to squish my couscous into a little ramekin and then unmould it to make things extra-attractive. Takes two seconds and makes you look like a super star.

african inspired peanut chicken stew with couscous


Spiced Couscous:
2 cups boiling water (add some chicken bouillon powder/cubes for added flavour)
2 cups couscous
1 t each of turmeric, cumin and ground coriander
1/2 t cinnamon
dash of cardamom
1/2 c raisins

1. In a medium pot, combine the boiling water and the couscous. Cover and let sit for five minutes (it can sit longer though, if your dinner isn't ready yet).

2. Add the spices and the raisins and combine it well. Taste it and add some salt if you think it needs it.

spices for couscous

spiced couscous

Serve the stew with the couscous. YUM.

I happened to make this on a night where hubs was playing hockey, so I packed his up nicely in a snazzy two compartment container. He was most grateful when he got home. :)

leftovers for hubs

Thanks for reading - I've got the most ridiculously simple pasta recipe in the world coming up next. YUMMY. Also, please answer the poll (that I"ll hopefully have working by the time you read this, lol. A tech guru, I am NOT.


kickpleat said...

i'm also totally freaked out that christmas is in...11 days...really? yikes. great looking dish, totally.

Mrs. Stulf said...

A webisode would be great! I like all your recipees, although I'm not much of a cook. :)

tree hugger said...

video would be awesome!!

Chris and Bambie Sherwin said...

This sounds awesome! I can't wait to make it!!

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