Well, we made it to Brazil. This is B’s home turf of cooking, a world of South American food with a European sensibility. Learning recipes from B is a joy. She is such a natural cook, I know her dad, who by all accounts was a pretty incredible man and cook, had a whole lot to do with that.
I had a look around at traditional Brazilian recipes, and was intrigued by the sound of this chicken which is cooked with vinegar. Okra is a vegetable I have always been afraid of cooking it, given that the texture is dubious to say the least. B allayed my fears by assuring me that with her father Dick’s method, the okra is just lightly steamed, and never stirred, so it does not get slimy at all. She was of course spot on. And the okra that lands in the sauce thickens it perfectly.
You’ll need some chicken thighs still on the bone, garlic, an onion, some small okra, half a green chilli, salt, pepper, olive oil, tomato paste and vinegar… I used super basic white vinegar, it was perfect. Thighs on the bone will give you the best flavour.
The thighs marinate before cooking, for at least an hour, I left them marinating overnight. I’m an overachiever like that.
First step is to make a garlic paste with salt, if you have a mortar and pestle it would be ideal to use that, instead I minced the garlic with a microplane and then mashed the salt in well. This paste is often used as a base of a flavour in Brazilian food.
Then add a couple of grinds of pepper, vinegar and some oil. Mix well.
Chop up the onion, then put the chicken thighs in a container that will sit well in the fridge, and rub well with the paste and the onions. Cover with plastic and leave to marinate refrigerated.
When the chicken has marinated, add enough oil to cover the base of a large heavy bottomed pan, and brown the thighs. I did this in two batches to give the thighs space in the pan. I found I had to keep the heat on medium so as not to over cook the onion while the chicken browned lightly.
When browned, put the chicken in the saucepan together with a generous grind of pepper, and the tomato paste. Then top up with water until just barely covered.
Bring the saucepan to a boil, and allow to simmer turning occasionally until the liquid is reduced by at least half, and the chicken is very tender. Taste for seasoning, and even a little for vinegar if you feel it needs some more acidity. The chilli will add some piquancy.
Chop up the chilli finely, and the okra thinly.
Spread the chilli and okra on the top of the chicken in the saucepan, put the lid on and let the okra steam for about 10 minutes. Don’t stir the okra, this is key.
Then it is ready to serve with some rice.
We loved it. Healthy, flavoursome, and has a delicious rich sauce. Jason commented that it reminded him of a dish he adores, chicken cacciatore. What surprises me about the Brazilian food I have made or eaten so far is the finesse in the flavours, quite different to the other flavours I know of South and Central America.
Thanks for this recipe B, and all of the coaching as I cooked it.
Oh yeah, tag! You’re ‘it’ now.
FRANGO COM QUIABO / BRAZILIAN CHICKEN WITH OKRA
6-8 chicken thighs on the bone
3 large garlic cloves
1/2 tablespoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
three tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
half a green chilli, finely chopped
10 small okra
Mash the garlic with the salt to make a paste. Add a grind or two of pepper, the vinegar and a tablespoon of oil. Mix well and then rub on to the chicken. Mix onion through chicken also and allow to marinate for at least an hour.
When chicken has marinated, add two tablespoons of oil to a heavy bottomed pan and brown the thighs and onion, in batches if need be, to allow space around the thighs.
When browned, put all of the chicken back in to the saucepan and grind a generous amount of pepper over them, then add the tomato paste and enough water to just cover the chicken. Cook until very tender and the liquid has reduced somewhat.
Thinly slice okra and scatter over the chicken along with the chilli pepper. Cover and allow the okra to steam for ten minutes or until cooked. Do not stir.
Serve with rice.