This week for the Food Matters Project, hosts Evi and Sam at Fifth Floor Kitchen chose Mark Bittman’s recipe Vegetables au Vin with Coq (pg. 466). The recipe listed a couple of ingredients that I just didn’t feel like eating this week, like bacon and green beans. The recipe also had chicken, onions, eggplant, olive oil, and wine—all right, I could do something with that.
For inspiration, I started out by drinking the wine and then I remembered a Paula Wolfert recipe that I posted a couple of months ago. Her recipe for samfaina is a Catalonian vegetarian dish very similar to ratatouille, but the eggplant is made into a puree and folded in to the cooked vegetables, and there isn’t any zucchini. Imagine folding baba ganoosh in with cooked peppers and onions. I thought that I couldn’t go wrong with that and my insight was correct. The chicken with a variation of ratatouille was a great success with my family and friends. (Pollo con samfaina may be a more accurate name for the dish.)
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Baking Time: 20 minutes
1 whole chicken, (to be carved into serving portions)
1 onion, peeled, halved and sliced into 1/8-inch wide strips
1 red bell pepper, halved and deseeded
1 green bell pepper, halved and deseeded
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Prepare the chicken by removing and discarding the skins, and sprinkling the meat with salt and pepper. Cut the chicken into serving pieces: 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, 2 breasts, and 2 wings. (Save the carcass to make soup stock for another occasion. The stock freezes well.)
2. Pre-heat the oven to 400°, and then slice the eggplant lengthwise from top to bottom. Salt the cut sides of the eggplant and set the pieces aside for 15 minutes to release some of their water and bitterness. After 15 minutes wipe them off and pat them dry.
3. Brush a little olive oil on the cut sides of the eggplant, and then spread a baking pan with 1-1/2 tablespoons of the oil. Place the eggplant and the bell peppers on the baking pan facing down. Bake for 10 minutes and then turn the bell peppers over and bake another ten minutes, and then remove the bell peppers from the oven and set them aside on a plate. Flip the eggplant over and continue to cook it for another 15 minutes. When it is done remove it from the oven and set it aside.
4. While the peppers and the eggplant are in the oven, get a large skillet out and begin to brown the chicken pieces in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Set the chicken aside after you have browned all the pieces on both sides. Clean out the pan and begin to sauté the onion in 1-1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. After the onion turns soft and translucent, add the minced garlic and sauté 2 more minutes.
5. Cut each of the halved bell peppers into quarters and then place them in the pan with the onions, stir them in well with the onions. Add ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon dry thyme, stir, and then add the chicken pieces to the pan mixing well with the onions and peppers. Cover and bake 10 minutes, and then remove the lid and bake 10 more minutes.
6. While the chicken is in the oven prepare the eggplant. Use a soup spoon to scrape away eggplant meat from the skin. Put the eggplant meat into a bowl and use a fork to mash it up good. Add 1-tablespoon olive oil and mix it in well.
7. When the chicken is ready remove it from the oven and set the chicken pieces on a serving platter. Fold eggplant in with the onions and peppers and then pour it out of the pan and over the chicken.