The cheese plate in my last post was a precursor to my crock pot-ed meal.
I tried to make an African/Moroccan chicken stew. Actually, I was really jonesing for an oxtail, lamb or a neck bone stew, but Albany John had bought chicken legs, so that’s what I was using. See? I am SO coming along in the kitchen FIFO (first in, first out) accounting system. In years past I would have just gone out and bought the damn oxtails or lamb, but no, no. This time I was being all good and shiz and using up the stuff we already had.
So I skinned and trimmed the fat off of the chicken legs. As a note – skinning and trimming chicken fat is icky and difficult in the summer time. The legs warm up pretty quickly in my hot hands, which makes them stretch and give a little more. The fat turns a bit gooey, and I probably end up spreading salmonella all over the kitchen trying to cut the fatty deposits out. Maybe I should turn on the AC more often, or freeze my hands before handling meat.
After the chicken legs (legs are the thighs and drumsticks of a chicken, still attached together, just FYI) had been de-fatted, I plonked them into ye-olde Crock Pot. Then I diced up an onion very finely. I’ve learned that unless you do that, it will take onion slices a LONG ass time to soften in a crock-pot. Then I bashed some garlic cloves to skin them and plopped them in slightly crushed from the bashing. I also added a can of chickpeas and liquid, cause chickpeas are tasty. Then I tossed in cumin, chili powder, turmeric, and… other spices I can’t remember. Maybe it was just those three. I remember wishing I’d had cardamom, just a pinch, even though I hate it in large doses, just because I think it would have added a rich African taste and rounded everything else nicely.
Side note – I’ve learned I don’t much care for cardamom after ordering the Kifte leb leb, a ground lamb/beef dish from Abiata in Montreal. That meat was LOADED with cardamom and would have been so much better (to me) if they’d used a lighter hand. Then after biting into cardamom pods in Indian food a few times, I’ve decided I’m not a fan overall. But I really liked all of the other food at Abiata, so I figured a teensy bit of cardamom would have made the stew kind of sort of like a bastard cousin to their cuisine. Oh Abiata, how I miss yooo.
“Okay Albany Jane. Just take a freakin trip up to Montreal to get your Abiata fix, why dontcha?”
I could, but this is a lot closer – and now I have a recipe to tweak!
Just before we ate the chicken stew I made fufu (just click here – it’s a wikipedia entry on fufu. It’s way more explanatory than I could ever give ya). I’d never even heard of fufu until Albany John brought a box of it home, just waiting for a bit of water. I think he got it from Sabah Market on Central Ave, Albany, NY, but it’s been in our pantry for a while and he’s not 100% sure.
This box of fufu was kind of like the instant mashed potatoes of African cuisine. The type we have is a powder of plantains that you add a bit of water to over the stove and mix to combine it. It takes on a playdoh like texture – soft, squishy, fairly bland. Unlike instant mashed potatoes, I really like fufu.
You can use fufu as a non-flour thickener, or it can be served on its own with the diners pinching off bits or hunks and eating it with their meal.
I really like the 2nd option, so that’s how I serve it. It went very well with the chicken stew – a nice squishy semi-bland plop of dough. If this doesn’t sound appetizing, trust me it’s worth a try. I balled up the fufu into 3 small balls, since there were 3 of us dining.
Almost African Stew:
2 Chicken Legs, skinless
1 15 oz can Chickpeas
1 12-15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 whole onion, diced
2 t cumin
½ t turmeric
1 t chili powder
4 cloves garlic
1 medium eggplant
Set Crock Pot on high.
Cut eggplant into quarters. Salt and let drain 30 min – 1 hour. Remove salt, then skin and dice. Put in Crock Pot.
Dice onions finely and put in crock pot.
Add diced tomatoes, reserving all but 2 T of liquid. Too much liquid will turn this stew into a soup.
Open chickpeas, add entire can, liquid and all.
Almost African Stew will be ready in 3 hours.
This isn’t the best recipe, but a guideline – for improvements, I would include more seasonings and double the spices I used initially. Next time I’d also like some oxtails. You can’t go wrong with oxtails.