(Originally Published 8/22/2014) Back in June, I rode my bike from D.C. to Pittsburgh along the C&O Canal and Great Allegheny Passage rail trail. It was beautiful. The rides were long. There was no car traffic and I admit that I did spend a few hours each day listening to food and cooking podcasts while poking along on my bike. That left me with a long list of foods I wanted to try, including Macanese food after hearing a Splendid Table interview with the owners of Fat Rice restaurant.
Macau combines the cuisines of Portugal, China and some of Africa . . . plus (according to the interview) whatever else families develop as “traditional” (the beauty of true fusion cuisine). That seemed like a great invitation to experiment and so I recently had my Macanese Dinner Party. The menu of which is below:
- Minchi (without the eggs) or Bolinho de Bacalhau (Cod Fritters)
- Po Kok Gai (Portuguese Chicken with Mussels, Chorizo and mild Coconut Curry – In this recipe, I kept out the potatoes, added 6 cloves garlic roughly chopped, used basil instead of parsley, and added mussels on top at the end to steam, covered)
- Piri Piri Chicken (African Grilled Chicken with Peanut Sauce and Potato) – I invented my own recipe, see below.
- Sticky Rice
- Dry Fried Beans with Lemon – You take grocery store green beans, you take a wok, you take whatever you want to spice them with (in this case minced shallots, fish sauce, dark soy sauce, lemon zest and lemon juice) and then cook the hell out of them until they are shriveled, ugly, tasty morsels. Do not do this with nice beans freshly plucked from the garden, which should be eaten as-is!
- Smacked Cucumber Salad
- Greens with Mango-Wine Dressing – Recipe follows
- Serradura (Sawdust Cake) and/ or Egg Tarts with Poached Peaches and Cream – See below about the egg tarts.
Piri Piri Chicken:
Two Half Chickens (yes that equals one chicken, and if you know how to butterfly a chicken, that’s good, do that. . . .I actually have a local source of chicken legs and thighs served as one big hunk that I used for this (6 of them) but should have done something with a little white meat)
2 Medium Onions, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
4 Poblano Chiles seeded and chopped (Use your own chile-ness preference on this one)
28 oz can of Crushed Tomatoes
2/3 cup Peanut butter (if you use an all natural peanut butter, you may need to add sugar later to sweeten the sauce)
2 Tb minced fresh oregano
Salt to taste
4 Potatoes (any kind, it doesn’t really matter)
Heat oven to 300 degrees.
In a dutch oven, heat some canola or other mild oil (just enough to coat the bottom) until shimmering, add half a chicken (or three thigh/leg combos) skin down. Cook until skin is browned (about 5 minutes) then flip and do the same on the other side. Remove to a plate, do a similar treatment to the other set of chicken. Remove the skins and reserve them.
Pour out grease (reserve in a small bowl) until about 1 Tb. remains in the pan. Now, cook the onions, chiles, and garlic until onions start to get translucent. Add tomatoes, peanut butter, oregano, whisk together. Add some water if it needs thinning to become more sauce than spread. Taste, adjust seasoning. Depending on your peanut butter, you may need salt.
Add chicken back into the pot, stir to coat, cover, and cook for 1 hour or so.
Chop potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Pour the reserve chicken fat onto a rimmed baking sheet. Add potatoes with a generous sprinkling of salt. Place chicken skin on potatoes. Put in oven with the chicken. As the chicken reaches the end of baking, you may want to brown the outside of the potatoes in a skillet on the stove top.
Serve chicken on top of the potatoes (remove the chicken skins first).
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Mango-Wine Dressing and Greens
For the green salad, I used regular head lettuce, arugula, and thin strips of rainbow chard. The arugula definitely makes a difference, so if you have that, add it.
The dressing – this is a starting point, my salad dressing strategy is to keep adjusting until it tastes right. In a food processor blend: 1 champagne mango (the little yellow ones) diced, 1/4 cup (loosely packed) cilantro, 3 Tb white wine, 3 Tb avocado oil (I happen to love this for salad dressings, I assume olive oil would work too), 2 Tb water, generous teaspoon of Sambal Oelek, pinch of salt.
* * *
According to the internet, there is a great debate over whether to use pie crust or puff pastry to make egg tarts. I don’t know the answer. I used this recipe and instead of buying the pie crust, I made my own. I think I may be on the “neither” side of the debate and would use a crust made of ground Maria biscuits left over from the serradura recipe.
The larger point here is the peaches. Peel and roughly chop two large peaches. Heat 2 Tb butter in a saucepan, add peaches and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes, add Moscato wine (or other sweet white wine) until it reaches halfway up the peach pile (I’m guessing 1/3 cup) and simmer, covered, while you make the egg tarts. My custard in no way matched my available egg tart space, so then I whisked it in with the peaches and simmered *that* while the tarts baked until it was a thick creamy sauce to pour on top. Yum.