When choosing a dinner to serve a visiting author, famous for his writings on Latin America, we wanted something new and interesting but also easy to prepare. We therefore returned to Extending the Table, where we found a simple chicken dish simply called Gingery Meat Stew on page 243.
I began by making the rice over which the stew would be served; had I paid better attention, I would have prepared it later, but I turned off the heat in plenty of time, so the rice could be held on the stove top. To prepare it, I heated 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in our stainless-steel saucepan. I used a special oil infused with blood orange, which would give the rice continuity with the main course. I toasted 1 cup of basmati rice in the oil, then added 2 cups of water, bringing the mixture to a boil. I covered it and left it on a very low boil until all of the water was absorbed, about a half hour.
I then heated some of the same infused oil (instead of the margarine mentioned in the book) in our indispensable cast-iron skillet, where I sauteed one small, finely minced onion; 1/2-inch of grated fresh ginger; and about a half-teaspoon each of cumin and turmeric. (The recipe calls for a "dash" each of ground coriander and turmeric, but the different spice mix in greater quantity seemed to work quite well.)
Once the onions were a bit brown, I stirred in one 15-ounce can of organic tomato sauce, one sliced onion, and one teaspoon of chili powder. I heated this until bubbly, and then added 1/4 teaspoon salt and one tablespoon honey (instead of the teaspoon of sugar called for) and one pound of organic, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces. (The recipe calls for beef or chicken.) I added about a cup of water (not in the recipe), covered this and let it simmer for about an hour.
As we enjoyed conversation in another room, I actually neglected to check on this as often as I normally would have, so that it ended up slightly blackened. It seems to have benefited from my neglect, the result being a thick sauce resembling marinara but with chunks of succulent chicken and a lot of complexity.
This paired very well with a very complex 2009 Malbec from Hinojosa wines in Argentina. The wine was selected in a local shop the day before, based on a sign that read "excellent" and the coincidence of naming with one of our favorite musicians. The author, by the way, dubbed the result "a fine meal."
The ginger was on hand, by the way, because we will soon be using it in the bottling of our own ginger-infused wheat beer. If that beer is successful, it will be a good excuse to extend the table for this gingery dish again!