Monday, January 25, 2016

Sumac Berry Chicken Fricassee with Mint Chutney Couscous

     Mediterranean Style Fricassee!
     Sumac Berry has been used since ancient times.  Persians used it as a spice.  Romans used it as a means of preserving chicken.  In the new world, sumac berry was used to treat arrow wounds and as a cough medicine by Native Americans.  Sumac Berry Spice is ground dried Red Sumac Berries and it has a lemony red wine flavor.  Sumac Berry Spice is available at Mediterranean food markets.

     Round Pearl Couscous is popular in the Middle East.  Lebanese Couscous looks like pasta balls that are about the size of a pea.  When cooked with an item that stains, the round couscous will absorb the color tint.  Mint Chutney makes round pasta couscous look like petite peas.    
     Couscous is not only shaped like tiny pasta balls.  There is couscous pasta that mimics the look of tiny whole grain and this style of couscous is popular in North Africa.  The original couscous in ancient times was steamed whole millet grain or other small local native grain.  Natural grain couscous, especially millet, is still traditional in some Mediterranean cultures in modern times.

     Mint chutney is an Indian condiment that accompanies bread, soups and entrées.  Mint chutney can also be used like a spice paste to flavor recipes.  Mint chutney is nice for flavoring couscous.
    Pre-made jars of mint chutney can be found in an Indian food market.  Honestly, jars of mint chutney are the same quality as a home made mint chutney.  It takes several bunches of mint to make 1 cup of mint chutney and by the time it is finished, the cost will be much higher than buying a jar of mint chutney.

     Fricassee is a word that describes an old French quick stewing cooking technique.  Some say that fricassee has its origins in France, but nobody is sure.  Fricassee is basically small pieces of fowl, game birds or small wild game that is stewed in a thin sauce.  Lemon is probably the most popular flavor for a fricassee.  The tart lemon red wine flavor of sumac berry tastes nice in a fricassee.
     Traditionally, fricassee tends to be a bit saucy.  Bread or rice usually served with fricassee so the extra sauce can be sopped up.
     Fricassee can be thickened with roux, beurre manie, flour slurry or the sauce can simply be reduced till it is thick enough to coat the pieces of meat.  Fricassee can also have a very thin broth sauce that is only finished with butter or cream.  When chilled for several hours in a refrigerator, a good fricassee sauce will gel and it will resemble aspic.  Fricassee that was accidentally chilled was the original inspiration for creating French Chaud Froid garde manger technique.  
     Sumac Berry Chicken Fricassee: 
     This recipe yields 1 large portion.
     Mediterranean and French cooking techniques are combined in this recipe!
     Step 1:  Cut 8 ounces of boneless chicken breast into large bite size pieces.
     Place the chicken pieces in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/4 cup of plain goat milk yogurt.
     Add 2 tablespoon of water.
     Add 1 teaspoon of sumac berry spice.
     Add 2 pinches of sea salt and black pepper.
     Mix the ingredients together.
     Refrigerate and marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons each of these small chopped vegetables:
     - onion
     - celery
     - green bell pepper.
     Add 2 minced garlic cloves.
     Sauté the vegetables till they are tender.
     Step 3:  Add just enough flour while stirring to absorb the excess butter in the pan.  (About 1 teaspoon to 1 1/2 teaspoons.)
     Stir the roux till it becomes a light golden color.
     Step 4:  Add 3 cups of chicken stock.
     Stir the sauce till it comes to a gentle boil.  The sauce will thicken to a very thin soupy consistency.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add the chicken pieces and the goat milk marinade.
     Add 1 small bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of nutmeg or mace.
     Add 1 pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 pinch of cinnamon.
     Add 1 pinch of cumin.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Adjust the seasoning with sea salt and black pepper.
     Step 6:  Simmer and occasionally stir for about 10 minutes.  Allow the sauce to reduce.
     Add 1 tablespoon of torn Italian Parsley leaves.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped roasted red bell pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 2 tablespoons of cream.
     Step 7:  Simmer and reduce till the sauce is a medium thin consistency that easily coats the chicken pieces.
     Keep the fricassee warm over very low heat.
     *The Mint Chutney Couscous can be cooked while the fricassee simmers!
     Mint Chutney Couscous: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of pearl couscous in boiling water over high heat in a sauce pot, till it becomes tender.
     Drain the water off of the couscous and return the couscous to the sauce pot.
     Step 2:  Place the sauce pot over very low heat.
     Add 1/2 cup of chicken stock.
     Add 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
     Add 1 pinch of sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of turmeric.
     Add 2 teaspoons of mint chutney.  (Pre-made mint chutney is available at Indian food markets.  Mint chutney is very strong.  A little bit goes a long way!)
     Step 3:  Stir the ingredients.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the excess liquid evaporates.
     Keep the mint chutney couscous warm on a stove top.
     Sumac Berry Chicken Fricassee with Mint Chutney Couscous:
     Use ring mold to mound a portion of mint chutney couscous on the back half of a plate.
     Spoon the sumac berry chicken fricassee on the plate around the couscous.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of sumac berry spice over the fricassee.
     Garnish the plate with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Sumac Berry Chicken Fricassee has a nice tart flavor that is refreshing in warm weather.  Sumac Berry Spice also helps to ward off a common cold when the weather is chilly!

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