Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: Chicken

Skillet Chicken Parm

Ingredients

2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (about 12 oz total)
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour
¾ cup Italian seasoned panko crumbs
1 large egg
Olive oil
Warm Marinara sauce, recipe below
6 ounces fresh Italian Fontina cheese, sliced thin

For the Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
26-28 oz container Italian chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

Directions

Prepare the sauce:
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the remaining ingredients and cook until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Prepare the chicken
Cut off any fat remaining on the chicken. Place a breast between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound lightly with a meat mallet to an even thickness. Repeat with the second breast. Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper. Spread out the flour and breadcrumbs on two separate plates. Beat the egg in a wide shallow bowl until thoroughly blended. Dredge the chicken in flour to coat lightly and tap off excess flour. Dip in the beaten egg, hold them over the bowl, letting the excess egg drip back into the bowl. Transfer the chicken, one piece at a time to the plate of breadcrumbs, turn it to coat with breadcrumbs, patting gently and making sure that each breast is well coated with breadcrumbs. If you have time refrigerate the breaded chicken for several hours.

Heat a layer of olive oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat until a corner of one of the coated breasts gives off a sizzle when dipped in the oil. Add the chicken pieces without touching each other. Fry, turning once, until golden on both sides and cooked through about 6 minutes. Top each chicken breast with several spoonfuls of marinara sauce. Place the sliced cheese over the sauce to cover the chicken completely. Cover the pan and turn the heat to low. Cook a minute or two until the cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Pasta with Butter, Black Pepper, and Pecorino Romano Cheese

Ingredients

8 oz fettuccine pasta
1 cup freshly grated pecorino romano cheese
` tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns
4 tablespoons butter

Directions

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander and return the pot to the stove. Melt the butter in the pot and add the black pepper. Add the cooked pasta to the pan and slowly swirl in the pecorino cheese. Mix well and serve with the chicken parm and a green salad.


Chicken Puttanesca

Serve with pasta.

4 servings

Ingredients

Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup diced pancetta
1/4 cup minced fresh onion
2 red chili peppers, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can of Italian whole cherry tomatoes (Cento brand)
1/4 cup sliced green olives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons capers, chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 canned anchovy fillet, chopped

Chicken
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast cutlets
4 slices provolone cheese
Flour
Salt and pepper
8 oz fettuccine

Directions

Make the sauce
Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the pancetta onion, and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes or until sauce is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

Cook the pasta al dente and drain.

For the chicken
Coat the chicken cutlets in flour, salt, and pepper. Shake off excess. Heat the oil in a large skillet and cook the cutlets about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. Top each cutlet with a slice of cheese and cover the pan. Cook for a minute or two until the cheese melts.

Mix the cooked pasta with the sauce. Place an equal portion of pasta in four individual pasta bowls. Top with the chicken and serve.

Oven Roasted Zucchini

4 servings

Ingredients

Two large Zucchini sliced into 1/4″ thick rounds
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with foil. Coat the foil with olive oil cooking spray.
Place zucchini rounds in a bowl. Add oil and spices to the bowl and toss zucchini to coat.
Lay zucchini on the prepared baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Return to the oven for 5 more minutes.


Stuffed Chicken Breasts Over Creamed Spinach

Both the chicken and butternut squash can roast in the oven together.

2 servings

Chicken
2 ounces onion/chive flavored cream cheese spread
1-ounce Italian fontina cheese, cut into 4 sticks
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
Kitchen twine

Spinach
1 tablespoons butter
1/2 large shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves minced
2 ounces cream cheese cut into pieces
1/4 cup heavy cream
10 oz frozen spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

For the chicken
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Lay the breasts on a cutting board. Using a sharp boning knife, cut a pocket in the thickest part of each breast.

Spread half the filling into each pocket. Tuck the tip of each breast under and secure with one long piece of butcher twine tied into a cross, making sure to seal the pocket hole with the twine. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Refrigerate chicken for 1 hour to firm up.

Place a tablespoon of butter, cut in half on top of each chicken breast.
Bake in the preheated oven until chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, about 30-40 minutes

For the spinach
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat.
Add the shallot and cook for 3 minutes; add garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the shallot softens.
Stir in cream cheese and cream; cook, stirring, until cream cheese is melted and smooth.
Stir in spinach; add cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Simmer over medium heat until the mixture thickens, about 4 to 5 minutes. Spread half of the creamed spinach on two individual serving plates. Place a cooked chicken breast on top of each portion.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients

1 small butternut squash
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Peel squash with a vegetable peeler. Slice off the ends of the squash, and then cut it in half width-wise. Cut the round bottom piece in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
Carefully cut the squash into spears. Thoroughly blot moisture away with paper towels, and place in a plastic ziplock bag with the salt, pepper, paprika, and oil. Shake well.
Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray, and then place the spears flat on the pan.
Bake in the oven 20 minutes, and then carefully turn the spears over. Continue to bake until tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, about 20 minutes longer.


Tip: Did you know you can freeze whole lemons and limes? They are perfect for cooking. Leave the frozen fruit on the counter for an hour. The zest is easy to remove, and the fruit slices and juices easily also. Next time you see lemons and limes on sale, buy a bag and freeze them for future cooking.

Southern Italian Style Lemon Chicken

Cooking a whole chicken is very economical because you get several meals from one chicken.

Ingredients

3 large lemons
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 garlic clove minced
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
4-pound whole chicken

Directions

Remove the zest from the three lemons and set aside. Cut the lemons into thin slices and set aside.


In a small bowl combine the lemon zest, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and salt.


Cut the chicken along the backbone on one side with kitchen shears. Do not remove the bone. Turn the chicken over and flatten it. (The reason I did not remove the backbone is that I want to use the entire chicken carcass for soup.)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil on the baking sheet. Lay the lemon slices in the olive oil down the middle of the tray as a “rack” for the chicken. Sprinkle one-third of the lemon rub on the underside of the chicken. Turn the chicken over and rub the remaining lemon mixture over and under the skin of the whole chicken. Lay the chicken, skin side up, on the bed of lemons and drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Roast, basting every 15 minutes until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer reads 165 degrees F in the thigh about 45 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and allow to rest for 10 minutes before carving.
Using a fork, mash the lemon pulp into the juices on the baking sheet, discarding the rind. Mix the pulp into the drippings and use this mixture to spoon over the chicken just before serving.

Serve some of the chicken for dinner. I was able to remove about 4 cups meat. I left some meat clinging to the leg, wing and breast bones for soup. Shred 1 to 2 cups for the recipe below. Use the carcass and some of the cooked chicken for chicken noodle soup. You may even have enough leftover for some chicken salad.

Baked Chicken Taquitos (Rolled Tacos)

The entire recipe makes 20 taquitos. I cut the recipe in half and made 10 for my family. I like tortillas made from cassava flour for this recipe because they are grain-free, light and easy to roll.

For the Taquitos:
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
20 corn tortillas

For the Toppings:
Shredded lettuce
Diced tomatoes
Guacamole
Sour Cream
Chopped Green Onion
Crumbled Queso Fresco
Pico de Gallo
Salsa

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray two large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the shredded chicken with cumin, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, paprika, and fresh lime juice. Stir until chicken is well coated with the seasonings. Stir in the shredded cheese.

Wrap the tortillas in a damp paper towel and place on a plate. Microwave for 1 minute or until the tortillas are warm and pliable.
Layout the tortillas on a flat surface and divide the chicken and cheese mixture among the 20 tortillas. Roll up each tortilla tightly and secure with a toothpick.

Place a heaping tablespoon of the chicken and cheese mixture in the center of the tortilla and roll it up tightly. Place the taquito, seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Continue rolling taquitos until the tortillas and filling are gone.

 

Spray the taquitos generously with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the taquitos are golden brown and crispy. Remove from the oven and serve warm with desired toppings.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Leave some meat on the bones, especially the legs, wings, and breast bone

Ingredients

Broth
Chicken bones leftover from the roasted chicken recipe above
1 whole onion, cut in half
2 carrots, cut in half
4 celery stalks with leaves, cut in thirds
6 fresh thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 tablespoon peppercorns
8 quarts water

Directions

Place all the ingredients in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Cover the pan with the lid ajar.
Strain the broth in a colander lined with cheesecloth over a large bowl. Let drain completely. Pick out any meat in the cheesecloth and set aside. Discard the cooking vegetables and bones and return the broth to the stockpot.

Noodle Soup

Ingredients

Strained broth
Reserved chicken meat
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
5 scallions, diced
6 oz fettuccine or noodles
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Place the strained broth, carrots, celery, and scallions in the stockpot. Bring to a boil, lower heat and cook the vegetables, about 20 minutes. Return toa boil, add the noodles and cook for about 5 minutes. Add salt (I added 2 teaspoons) and black pepper to taste. Stir in reserved chicken meat, dill, and parsley.


In 2017, approximately 4.4 million Caribbean immigrants resided in the United States, accounting for 10 percent of the nation’s 44.5 million immigrants. With the notable exception of Jamaica, all major Caribbean nations were under direct U.S. political control at some point, which has created incentives and opportunities for the nationals of these islands to migrate to the United States. The first wave of large-scale voluntary migration from the Caribbean to the United States began in the first half of the 20th century and consisted mostly of laborers, including guest workers from the British West Indies program who worked in U.S. agriculture in the mid-1940s, as well as political exiles from Cuba. The migration accelerated in the 1960s when U.S. companies recruited large numbers of English-speaking workers (from laborers to nurses) from former English colonies (e.g., Jamaica). At the same time, political instability in Cuba, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic propelled emigration. The subsequent waves consisted mostly of their family members and working-class individuals. In contrast, skilled professionals have consistently constituted a relatively high share of Jamaican immigrants to the United States. Between 1980 and 2000, the Caribbean immigrant population increased by more than 50 percent every ten years (54 percent and 52 percent, respectively) to reach 2.9 million in 2000. The growth rate declined gradually afterward.

Source: Migration Policy Institute (MPI) tabulation of data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2017 American Community Survey (ACS).

Caribbean cuisine is a fusion of African, Creole, Cajun, Amerindian, European, Latin American, East/North Indian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese. These influences were brought from many different countries when they came to the Caribbean. In addition, the population has created styles that are unique to the region. Ingredients that are common in most islands’ dishes are rice, plantains, beans, cassava, cilantro, bell peppers, chickpeas, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, coconut, and various proteins that are locally available like beef, poultry, pork or fish. A characteristic seasoning for the region is a green herb and oil-based marinade which imparts a flavor profile which is distinctively Caribbean in character. Additional ingredients may include onions, scotch bonnet peppers, celery, green onions, and herbs like cilantro, marjoram, rosemary, tarragon, and thyme. This green seasoning is used for a variety of dishes like curries, stews, and roasted meats.

Traditional dishes are important to island cultures, for example, the local version of Caribbean goat stew has been chosen as the official national dish of Montserrat and is also one of the signature dishes of St. Kitts and Nevis. Another popular dish in the Caribbean is called “Cook-up”, or pelau. Ackee and saltfish is another popular dish that is unique to Jamaica. Callaloo is a dish containing leafy greens and sometimes okra that is known throughout the Caribbean.

The variety of dessert dishes in the area also reflects the mixed origins of the recipes. In some areas, Black Cake, a derivative of English Christmas pudding may be served on special occasions. Black cake is a rich, molasses-spiced cake filled with dried fruits and is a part of Christmas festivities throughout the Caribbean. The cake varies from island to island.

Some Jamaican cuisine dishes are variations on the cuisines and cooking styles brought to the island from elsewhere. These are often modified to incorporate local produce. Others are novel and have developed locally. Popular Jamaican dishes include curry goat, fried dumplings, ackee and saltfish (cod). Jamaican patties and various pastries and bread are also popular as well as fruit beverages and Jamaican rum.

Little Caribbean Section Of New York

Across America, a new generation of Caribbean-American chefs is taking Caribbean cuisine to new heights, from unique rum bars to fine dining restaurants. These talented chefs are interpreting traditional dishes and ingredients from their grandmother’s kitchen in ways that are unexpected, but always authentic.

Crown Heights-Caribbean Restaurant

Some Caribbean recipes to try at home:

Jerk Seasoning

ingredients

1 tablespoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl or jar.

Roasted Chicken with Jerk Seasoning

Ingredients

Jerk seasoning rub, recipe above
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large bone-in chicken breasts, cut in half, and 3-4 large bone-in thighs
2 teaspoons Kosher salt

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Mix oil and 3 tablespoons spice rub in a small bowl Reserve remaining rub for later. Rub chicken with jerk spice mixture; season with salt. Place the chicken in a covered container and marinate overnight.


Remove chicken from the refrigerator and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle the chicken with the remaining spice rub. Bake until golden brown and cooked through, 50–60 minutes.

Caribbean Sweet Potato Bake

Makes 6 servings

3 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes (2 pounds)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons dark rum
Grated peel and juice from 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 bananas, peeled and diced
Parsley

Directions

Combine the mashed sweet potatoes with eggs, brown sugar, butter, rum, lime peel, juice and nutmeg in a mixing bowl. Beat until well blended.
Spoon into a shallow baking dish, place the sliced bananas around the top of the sweet potato mixture and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Callaloo

Callaloo is a popular Caribbean vegetable dish that is widely known throughout the Caribbean and has a distinctively Caribbean origin.
Recipes vary across the region, depending on the availability of local vegetables. The main ingredient is an indigenous green leaf called amaranth.

Callaloo, in Trinidad & Tobago and other eastern Caribbean countries, is generally made with okra and dasheen or water spinach. Variations may include coconut milk, crab, conch, Caribbean lobster, meats, pumpkin, chili peppers, and other seasonings or spices. The ingredients are added and simmered down to a somewhat stew-like consistency. When cooked, callaloo is dark green in color and is served as a side dish.

In Jamaica, callaloo is often combined with saltfish and is usually seasoned with tomatoes, onions, scallions, scotch bonnet peppers and cooking oil. It is often eaten with roasted breadfruit, boiled green bananas, and dumplings. It is a popular breakfast dish.

In Grenada, callaloo is steamed with onion and coconut milk and is eaten as a side dish. Grenadians also stir or blend the mixture until it has a smooth texture. Callaloo soup comprising callaloo, okra, dumplings, yam, potato, chicken and beef is traditionally eaten on Saturdays. It is also one of the most important ingredients in Oil Down, the island’s National Dish, that is comprised of steamed breadfruit, callaloo, yam, carrot and several varieties of meat or fish. All of this is steamed in coconut milk and saffron powder.

In the Virgin Islands, callaloo is served with a dish of fungee (mushrooms) on the side. In Guadeloupe, “calalou au crabe” (crab callaloo) is a traditional Easter dish.

Ingredients

4 cups callaloo, chopped and tightly packed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
2 sprigs thyme
1 medium tomato, chopped
Salt to taste
1 Scotch Bonnet (hot) pepper, whole or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons water

Directions

Remove the small branches with leaves from the main stem and submerge the callaloo into a bowl of cold water. Let soak for a minute and remove, discarding the water. Repeat 2 more times. Finely chop the leaves and branches and set aside. Place oil in a large pot, add onions, thyme, tomato, and scotch bonnet pepper on medium heat, saute; until onion is translucent. Add callaloo and water, allow to simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes or until tender.


Pasta With Chicken Meatballs In A Fresh Tomato Sauce

Using chicken for the meatballs is a good choice in making this recipe since I think they make for a lighter meatball that compliments this delicate sauce.

Ingredients

8 ounces spaghetti or fettuccine
1 1/2 pounds ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of sea salt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
Warm Italian-style chicken meatballs, recipe below
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Pecorino-Romano cheese

Directions

If you can, prepare the tomatoes several hours in advance.
Combine tomatoes, garlic, salt, black pepper and olive oil in a pasta serving bowl. Set aside for several hours to help develop the flavor.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and cook the pasta according to package directions for al dente. Drain.

.Add the warm meatballs and basil to the tomato mixture and toss to coat. Add the pasta and toss with the meatball mixture. And a few drizzles of olive oil. Top with the cheeses and serve.

Chicken Meatballs

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons red bell peppers minced
2 tablespoons onion minced
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg
1 garlic minced
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound ground (organic) chicken

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peppers and onions and saute for 3-5 minutes or until softened. Cool to room temperature.
Mix the peppers and onions with the breadcrumbs, cheese, egg, garlic, salt, pepper, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes.
Add the meat and combine. Do not over mix, but be sure seasonings are well dispersed.
Coat a baking sheet with rimmed edges with non-stick spray or line with heavy-duty foil and roll meatballs into 1-inch balls. Place on the prepared pan and bake at 400 degrees F for 25 minutes. Keep warm while the pasta is prepared.


African immigrants in the United States come from almost all regions in Africa and do not constitute a homogeneous group. They include peoples from different national, linguistic, ethnic, racial, cultural and social backgrounds. As such, African immigrants are distinct from African Americans, many of whose ancestors were involuntarily brought from West Africa and Central Africa to British North America by means of the Atlantic slave trade. African Americans whose ancestors were forced into slavery and Africans who emigrated to the US have all contributed numerous qualities in the development of the US as a nation and have greatly influenced our culinary world.

Since the 17th century, enslaved Africans and their descendants have had a profound impact on what Americans grow and eat. Watermelon, okra, yams, black-eyed peas, and some peppers are all indigenous to Africa. Fruits and vegetables brought from Africa flourished in America in large part because enslaved Africans planted their own gardens to supplement the meager rations provided by their captors. These plants eventually made their way from gardens of the enslaved to those of some of the wealthiest and most prominent people in the country, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, whose gardens were planted with heirloom seeds from Africa. Enslaved African chefs left their mark on certain cooking methods, while also developing recipes that are now staples in the American diet, particularly in the American South. Dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, pepper pot and the method of cooking greens called Hoppin’ John (a dish made with greens and pork) are all examples. “The method of deep frying of fish or barbecuing meats were all documented in West Africa before the transatlantic slave trade,” says Kelley Deetz, director of programming at Stratford Hall and who is also the author of Bound to the Fire, which explores how Virginia’s enslaved cooks helped invent American cuisine. “These dishes and ingredients were essential to the formation of Southern, and eventually American, food.”

The continent of Africa has seen many changes in migration patterns over the course of history. The influx of African immigrants began in the latter part of the 20th century and is often referred to as the “fourth great migration.” About three-fourths of all immigrants from Africa went to the United States after 1990. This trend began after decolonization, as many Africans moved to the U.S. seeking education and an escape from poverty, and this trend has been steadily rising over time. Originally, these immigrants came with the sole purpose of advancing themselves before returning to their respective countries. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of African immigrants interested in gaining permanent residence in the U.S. One major factor that contributes to migration from Africa to the United States is for job opportunities. It has been relatively easier for Africans with advanced education to leave and enter the international labor markets. In addition, many Africans move to the United States for advanced training. For example, doctors from different African nations move to the U.S. in order to increase their skills and gain more economic opportunities.

African immigrants tend to retain their culture once in the United States. Cultural bonds are developed through shared ethnic or national affiliations. Some organizations like the Ghanaian group Fantse-Kuo and the Sudanese Association are organized by country, region, or ethnic group. Other nonprofits like the Malawi Washington Association is organize by national identity and are inclusive of all Malawians. Other groups present traditional culture from a pan-African perspective. Using traditional skills and knowledge, African-born entrepreneurs develop services for immigrants and the community at large. In the Washington area, events such as the annual Ethiopian soccer tournament, institutions such as the AME Church African Liberation Ministry, and “friends” and “sister cities” organizations bring together different communities. According to estimates in 2000, there were 8.7 million African American families in the United States. The ten states with the largest populations of African Americans are New York, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Louisiana, Michigan, and Maryland.

The migration of Africans to Europe and the US has introduced a range of African culinary dishes to the world. Ethiopian and Moroccan foods have made their mark with popular restaurants in urban hubs like London, New York, Paris, and Washington DC. Traditionally, African cuisines use a combination of locally grown fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, and meats. African cuisine can be broken down largely into styles from Central Africa, East Africa, the Horn of Africa, North Africa, South Africa, and West Africa. Heavily influenced by spices, African recipes are known for their intense flavor and often include combining sweet flavors such as dried fruit, ginger, and cinnamon with garlic and onions.

The historical record indicates chickens were known in ancient Egypt by 1,400 BC, and later in the Greek and Roman empires. When they first arrived in sub-Saharan Africa is unknown, but they are now common throughout Africa as in the rest of the world. A similar bird, the guinea fowl, is native to Africa and is widely raised there. Both are often called kuku in many African languages. Nsusu or soso are words for chicken in the Congo region. Every culture has its own way of cooking chicken. One classic method of preparing chicken in Africa is to stew it in a peanut and tomato sauce (this basic recipe goes by many names in different parts of Africa). Another delicious African chicken dish is Poulet Yassa, which is chicken marinated in an onion-mustard mixture. The African kitchen is traditionally outside or in a separate building apart from the sleeping and living quarters. By far the most traditional and to-this-day the most common sight in an African kitchen is a stewpot filled with meat and vegetables (often greens) simmering over a fire. The pot usually sits on three stones arranged in a triangle, and the fire slowly consumes three pieces of wood that meet at a point under the pot.

Here is another traditional recipe for chicken.

Piri-Piri Chicken with Piri-Piri Sauce

Piri-Piri (sometimes spelled peri-peri) is Swahili for ‘pepper pepper’, or ‘strong pepper’ and refers to an African-style chili sauce. Piri-Piri Chicken is marinated in a hot chile pepper marinade, then grilled. This dish evolved in Angola and Mozambique (once Portuguese colonies) after Portuguese explorers and settlers brought American chili peppers to Africa.

The most basic piri-piri marinade recipe calls for just oil, cayenne pepper or minced fresh hot chile peppers, and salt. Many piri-piri recipes add an acidic liquid (usually lemon or lime juice, or vinegar, or possibly wine or liquor) which adds a tang and tenderizes the chicken. More elaborate versions also include additional flavorings and spices.

This recipe makes quite a bit and since I cook for two most days, I cut the recipe in half. This dish is delicious and the chicken turns out quite tender and juicy. The sauce has a bit of a kick but not overly spicy.

6-8 servings

Ingredients

4 lb chicken cut into parts or 4 lbs of your favorite chicken parts, about 8 pieces.

Peri Peri Marinade
3 red chilies (reduce for less heat or remove seeds), finely chopped or use 2 tablespoons red chili paste
1 green chili, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Peri Peri Sauce
3 tablespoons reserved marinade
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions

Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken parts and blend well.

Reserve 3 tablespoons of the marinade in a small storage container and the coat the chicken with the remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight.

Hear an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan.

For the Piri-Piri Sauce
Add reserved marinade, water, and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to boil. Cook for 2 minutes, remove from the heat and keep warm.

To cook the chicken
Place chicken bone side down on the grill. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook for 25-30 minutes. Turn chicken over once more and grill for another 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and drizzle the sauce over the grilled chicken.

African Cucumber Sambal

Ingredients

2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 green chili (jalapeno pepper), minced
1 teaspoon sugar or natural sweetener (honey, agave nectar, etc.)
1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 mint leaves, minced
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, quartered and thinly sliced

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir and toss well to cover.


Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.
The Sambal will store up to 4 days refrigerated in a tightly covered container.

West African Style Rice With Black-eyed Peas

Every culture seems to have its own version of rice and beans. Peanut oil and hot red pepper give this dish a West African flavor.

Carolina Gold Rice, long grain rice, was the basis of the colonial and antebellum economy of Carolina and Georgia. Considered the grandfather of long grain rice in the Americas, Carolina Gold (which came from Africa and Indonesia) became a commercial staple grain in the coastal lands of Charles Towne in the Carolina Territory in 1685. The rice has a superior flavor, nutty aroma, a tiny texture and a beautiful golden hue in the field. Cooking directions differ from traditional rice, in that, Carolina gold is boiled in salted water rather than simmered.

4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup (200 grams) dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in water to cover or one 15.8 oz can of black-eyed peas
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 large vine ripe tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ⁄ 4 teaspoon ground hot red pepper (cayenne)
1 ⁄ 8 teaspoon salt
Cooked Carolina (Charleston) gold rice (recipe below)

Directions

To cook the beans if using dried beans:

Cover black-eyed peas with water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat until soft, about 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

Or drain and rinse the canned beans. Set aside.

To finish the dish

Heat oil in a heavy pot. Add onion, tomato, tomato paste, red pepper, and salt. Simmer 10 minutes, uncovered, over medium heat until vegetables are soft. Add rice and beans to the pan. Cover and let the dish sit for 5 minutes before serving. Adjust seasoning if needed.

 Rice

If you use regular long grain white rice, follow the package directions for cooking 1/2 cup rice.

4 Servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup Carolina gold rice
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups of water

Directions

Bring the water to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan. Rinse the rice three times with tap water in a mixing bowl. Add the rice and salt to the boiling water. Stir gently to separate the grains and cook in boiling water 12-15 minutes until rice is tender and doubled in size. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside to add to the beans.

Sources:  Jessica B. Harris’ The Africa Cookbook; Marcus Samuelsson’s The Soul of a New Cuisine and The Congo Cookbook.



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