Have you ever possessed a cookbook that's occupied a lot of time in your mind, but not so much in your kitchen? I spent hours reading the recipes in The Brazilian Kitchen by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, but it was nearly a year before I finally got around to making them.
It took some patience researching ingredients such as dendê oil and locating the most reliable and affordable places to buy them online. But ultimately, my efforts paid off, because there's nothing more rewarding than getting acquainted with unfamiliar cuisines.
This traditional stew is a staple in Brazil's Bahia, a northeastern coastal state that's heavily influenced by African and European cultures. Moqueca is typically made with seafood, but this milder version has plantains and chicken that's been slow-simmered until it's fall-off-the-bone tender. Don't be afraid of Bahia's most comforting dish; continue reading for the recipe.
1 whole chicken (about 3-1/2 pounds), with skin, cut into 8 pieces Serves 4 to 6.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons dendê oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 scallions, white and green parts, sliced on the diagonal
1/2 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 cup white wine
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
3 cups chicken stock
1-1/2 cups coconut milk
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 pound ripe plantains (look for yellow and black speckled skin)
3 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and sliced
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 whole chicken (about 3-1/2 pounds), with skin, cut into 8 pieces
Serves 4 to 6.