We continue to stumble across minor and major reminders of the explosion which blew up part of our home last April. The acid vapor cloud penetrated into the far reaches of the house in an intriguingly random pattern, so elusive that we still find evidence of damage here and there after all these months.
Two weeks ago we reached an agreement for compensation with our insurance company. They agreed to give us a check, a lump sum payment to replace damaged or incinerated furniture, appliances, artwork, books, and whatnot. In effect, with this payment they would buy our bruised possessions from us, meaning they would come by the house in a big ole truck and collect everything. We were quite stunned at first by the realization that they proposed to essentially clear out the house. We didn’t necessarily want to give up everything on their list, but the unpleasant thought of a long drawn-out negotiation, something foreigners usually lose, helped to put the necessary signatures on the release document.
In order to facilitate an orderly pick-up (some of us are German, you know!), we piled most of our (former) possessions into the carport.
Since our freezer was also among the deportees, it was time to process the last remaining package therein, namely a skinless, boneless double chicken breast. We planned to grill the chicken and enjoy it with a salad al fresco on the patio, but the Weather Gods didn’t want to play. This particular day turned out to be the first rainy afternoon in weeks. It rained hard and wouldn’t quit, great for agriculture, a true killjoy for a picnic.
I had previously gone through our spice cabinet, which still contained an ugly selection of smoke damaged jars, bags, and bottles. I kept only a few when I thought the content might still be usable. Among them a screwtop jar with a mild curry mix. We also still own one large frying pan, albeit without a useful lid. The curry powder and the pan together changed the menu from grilled to curried chicken.
CANDIED CURRY CHICKEN
2 (still connected) chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, 500 g total weight,
natural local (preferred) or Greek yogurt,
onion (sweet yellow would be best, I only had a red one), red pepper (chiles dulces), zucchini, fresh ginger, green onion, mango, bananas, cherry tomatoes, limón mandarina juice, maracuyá juice (home made, not the sweetened, commercial pulp), parsley, fresh thyme,
curry powder, coriander seed powder, salt, freshly ground black pepper, honey, mustard.
Put the chicken breasts on a plate, on a triple layer of paper towels to catch moisture, rib side down. Cover the smooth front surface with a very generous layer of curry powder and some freshly ground pepper. Leave it in peace now. While you start prepping the vegetables, the meat will happily absorb the pungent curry flavor.
When you’re nearly down with the prep work, remove the paper towel & turn the meat over on the plate. Sprinkle the chicken breasts with coriander and pepper, then drizzle some honey on them. Finally, soak the sweet mess in the citrusy juice from a lemón mandarina and maracuyá juice. Distribute the fresh thyme twigs, pushing them into the moist surface. The meat should have about 10 minutes to shiver under this sweet and sour attack before you toss it in the frying pan. But don’t let it wait for the heat too long, because that could toughen the meat.
Gently soften the onion and ginger in the oil of your choice. I like olive oil for cooking because I rarely use high heat settings on the stove top and I like the flavor. It’s a personal preference. Toss the thyme that’s been marinating on the chicken in with the aromatics.
Next turn the heat up just a little, push the onion mix to the side of the pan and slide in the chicken breasts, smooth curry side down. Squeeze some mustard on the meat and let it cook for a few minutes, shaking the pan occasionally and taking care not to brown things too strongly.
Just before you flip over the meat add some more maracuyá juice. After turning the meat, gradually add the other vegetables, green onions, and peppers first.
Then add the fresh herbs and the yogurt and let it heat through, before adding the zucchinis and tomatoes, followed by mango and banana slices. At this point, you might want to turn the meat over once more and put a lid on the pan for the final five minutes of letting all these ingredients become intimately acquainted with each other.
This dish works very well with rice and/or over a mix of greens. Bon appetit, mes amis!