13 April 2008

Cinnamon Chicken

Living abroad may be full of challenges, but sometimes, just sometimes, you can have an intercultural culinary success. I am tentatively stepping into my new cooking clogs here in the Netherlands, where I am cooking without the 900 kitchen gadgets that we all take for granted at home. This has been just fine as I use Max as my taster and critic, but I had not yet cooked for others until this weekend. Max and I were invited to the home of one of his colleagues who lives in Amsterdam. It was a potluck, and the logistics were tricky. We had to make something that could be taken by bike to the train station, survive a 25 minute train ride, and a 30 minute walk (because who would not walk through Amsterdam on a rare sunny Saturday evening?). Oh, and the kicker was that the guests were from Italy, France, Spain, New Zealand, Germany, India, and the Netherlands. How was I going to please the tastes of any of these guests whose home countries offer some of the best cuisines? Like Erin, I try to learn from my mistakes, but this was no time for experimentation. I looked over the list of recipes I had recently tried, and asked Max to choose his favorite. It was the Cinnamon Chicken recipe I made a couple of weeks ago. The recipe is from Runners World Magazine

I changed the amount and type of chicken, and made some daring metric conversions. Here is the recipe as I made it (conversions re-converted--if that is possible). I also re-wrote some of the instructions, as I found the original recipe to be a bit jumbled.

The ingredients:
4 chicken breasts
1tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. kosher salt (we used Gros Sel de Guérande, a French sea salt)
1tsp. freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced (separate 2 cloves for use later)
1 1/2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
2 coarsely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
1 cup chicken stock
5 oz. tomato paste
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, choppped (dried oregano works just fine)

The steps:
  1. Boil water with a pinch of sea salt and set aside. Meanwhile, prepare your chicken stock in another pan and set aside.
  2. Mix the cinnamon, kosher salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pat the chicken breasts with paper towels and then rub the cinnamon mixture on the chicken breasts.
  3. Heat olive oil in deep skillet, and add chicken, browning for 4-5 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
  4. Lower heat to medium-high and add 3 of the minced garlic cloves and onions to the skillet. Stir for about 3 minutes, until onions are just beginning to soften.
  5. Add the wine, and stir occasionally until wine is evaporated.
  6. When the wine has evaporated, add the water, chicken stock, tomato paste, remaining 2 minced garlic cloves, and oregano. Stir until well blended.
  7. Return chicken breasts to the sauce mixture (they should be about 3/4 covered in sauce).
  8. Cover the skillet and simmer on low heat for about an hour until chicken is tender.
  9. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with rice or pasta.
The first time I made this (pictured below) I served it with rice. For the potluck, I just packaged it and we reheated it at the host's home. I was very pleased when I got a thumbs up from the New Zealander, the Spaniard, the French woman, and the Italian. I hope that it brings happiness to the taste buds of my American friends back home!

Trivia question: This recipe was originally labeled Koto Kapama (Cinnamon Chicken). What language does Koto Kapama come from? I don't have the answer, so I hope someone knows.


Carrie said...

I cheated and used google-- it says it's Greek. It looks delicious!

Melinda said...

Gasp! Thanks--that satisfies my curiosity! I have had two requests today from guests at the party for the recipe, so it must have worked well!

Carrie said...

And- my google search brought up a page for the recipe on the Runner's World website, so I updated your link- hope you don't mind!