Saturday, June 03, 2006

I Feel Like Setting Some Stuff on Fire

Isn't it lucky that Pentecost is tomorrow so we can combine that innate desire for arson with our faith?

Here are a few ideas on how to combine that with cooking for Pentecost Sunday tomorrow.

I'll be making Pollo con Pina a la Antigua (aka Chicken with Pineapple from Cuba). It is the only recipe I could think of that I make which involves flaming up during the process. Luckily it is delicious and also different enough to intrigue company should you have any.

If you do have company and want decorating ideas, just hop over here.

From the Caribbean islands book of the Time-Life Foods of the World series, there is no doubt about it being authentically Cuban as I was in conversation many years ago with a young Cuban woman who knew the recipe instantly and began talking about the annoyance of cutting up a whole pineapple to make it. I have never had problems with whole pineapples but these days it is easy enough to buy fresh pineapple chunks in the produce section.

Chicken with Pineapple
To serve 6

3-1/2 to 4 pound chicken, cut into 6 serving pieces
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
3 medium-sized firm ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped OR substitute 1 cup chopped, drained, canned tomatoes
1/4 cup seedless raisins
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lime rind
1/2 teaspoon crumbled, dried oregano
2 cups finely chopped fresh pineapple
1/4 cup medium-dark rum

Pat the chicken completely dry with paper towels. Rub the pieces with lime juice, sprinkle with the salt and a few grindings of pepper, and let them rest at room temperature for 5 minutes or so.

In a heavy 12-inch skillet with a tightly fitting lid, heat the oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms above it. Starting them skin side down, brown 2 or 3 pieces of chicken at a time, turning them with tongs and regulating the heat so that the pieces color quickly and evenly without burning. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Add the onions and garlic to the fat remaining in the skillet and, stirring frequently, cook for about 5 minutes, until they are soft and transparent but not brown. Return the chicken and the liquid that has accumulated around it to the pan, reduce the heat to the lowest point possible, cover tightly, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the tomatoes, raisins, lime rind and oregano, and turn the chicken about to coat the pieces evenly. Cover again and simmer for 10 minutes longer, until the chicken is tender but not falling apart.

Meanwhile, place the pineapple in a small saucepan and, stirring frequently, cook briskly, uncovered, until it has reduced to 1 cup. In a separate pan, warm the rum over low heat. Off the heat, ignite the rum and slide the pan gently back and forth over the range until the flame dies. Stir the rum into the pineapple and set aside. When the chicken is done, add the pineapple-and-rum mixture to the skillet and simmer for about 3 minutes, or until the pineapple is heated through. Taste for seasoning.

To serve, arrange the chicken on a heated platter and pour the pineapple sauce over it.


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