New Year’s challenge: Take a trip around the world at your table
A dish of chicken thighs with tomato, celery, plantain and peanuts inspired by the farming-centric African country of Rwanda.
Rwandan Inspired Chicken Thighs with Tomato, Celery, Plantain, and Peanuts
Look for this simple braised chicken to yield surprisingly big flavors and get your family started on your own globally inspired New Year’s resolution. I developed this dish after reading a little online about the foods of Rwanda.
2 tablespoons of grapeseed or Canola oil
6 chicken thighs (bone-in/skin-on)
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1-14.5 ouce can diced tomatoes, un-drained
1 cup celery, roughly chopped (tender leaves reserved)
1 green plantain, peeled and roughly chopped
¼ cup water
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup chopped Peanuts
Cooked brown rice for serving
Heat the grape seed oil over high heat in a large heavy-bottomed stock pot until nearly smoking. Meanwhile, season the chicken aggressively on both sides with salt and pepper. Place the chicken skin side down in the hot oil and allow to sear without disturbing until golden brown and crispy (about 8 minutes). Flip the chicken, reduce heat to medium high and allow to cook on the second side for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and reserve. Add the onions to the pot and cook until deeply browned and softened (about 10 minutes). When the onions are browned, add the garlic and the cayenne pepper. Allow to cook for 30 seconds before adding the canned tomatoes, celery, plantain and water. Mix well and return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot. Arrange the chicken skin side up and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and allow mixture to cook for 40 minutes. Remove chicken from heat, adjust seasoning, add the cut tomatoes and cover to warm the tomatoes through.
Place a portion of brown rice onto each of six plates. Top the rice with a braised chicken thigh and divide the vegetables and sauce evenly among the plates. Garnish with the chopped peanut and reserved celery leaves and serve.
Finding inspiration for your global family table:
To help ensure you’ll be serving a variety of dishes and preserve the arbitrary nature of the challenge, visit randomcountry.com and use their fun country selector to drive your dinner menu. We’ll be visiting the following countries in January of 2013 and I will be looking for inspiration from the corresponding dishes included below. I can’t imagine where February will take us! Come along or chart your own course.
1) Rwanda: Chicken with Tomato, Celery, Plantain and Peanuts
2) Senegal: Thieboudienne (one pot fish and rice)
3) Slovakia: Kapustnica (sauerkraut and sausage soup)
4) Taiwan: Sanbeiji (three cups of chicken)
Updated: January 2, 2013 1:38PM
Let’s face it; New Year’s resolutions aren’t that much fun.
I don’t know anyone who resolves to spend more money, throw more parties, increase caloric intake or exercise less at the turn of a new year, but I imagine those people would have a lot more fun keeping their commitment than average folks.
Restrictive resolutions are commonplace and largely destined to fail because they demand more change than habitual creatures can tolerate. Manageable resolutions are the key to success and, as a result, my family embraces creative resolutions that enhance our family table and increase our overall connectivity as a family.
In past years we’ve successfully resolved to spend 30 days living as vegetarians and endured a challenging month living on a poverty level food budget. Each of our thoughtful resolutions has forced us into new territory without being insurmountable. This year, our dinner-centric resolution will take us to far corners of the globe.
Rather than focus on 30-day resolutions as we have in the past, our resolution for 2013 will last a full 52 weeks to ensure we can meet the challenge. As a family, we’ve committed to visit a new country via our dining room table once a week in the coming year. Using an online random country selector ensures I will be as surprised as anyone else in my family about the cuisines we’ll research and enjoy each week.
Our first random selection of the year turned out to be Rwanda. While I am aware of the political turmoil in Rwanda, I realized pretty quickly that I was utterly clueless about their cuisine. After a little research, however, I turned out a lovely meal inspired by the nation known as the “the land of a thousand hills.” Our dinner, featuring plantains, rice, tomatoes, and chicken was an ode to the farming focused nation. The meal itself was almost as fulfilling as the heartfelt conversation we had at the table about the harrowing challenges faced by the people of wartorn Rwanda over the past decades.
It instantly occurred to me in that our foodie resolution will force all four of us to think about and discuss subjects that would not have come up on an otherwise normal day. Sure, my kids are old enough to talk about more complicated subjects at the family table, but both of them displayed a youthful curiosity about the plantains included in their chicken dinner.
My family be visiting 52 random countries in 2013 and I think everyone should unfurl their maps and join me in making this adventurous resolution! Some destinations are bound to be disastrous while others are destined to be divine, but the value of getting your whole family involved in mealtime preparations once a week will have benefits that last far longer than a calendar year.