Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cooking with Dr. Monkey

Today's episode: chachouka with polenta sticks.

I started by making the polenta first, since it has to cool completely before one can slice it and make crispy polenta sticks out of it.

I began by chopping up some rosemary, three cloves of garlic, and three small dried red chili peppers.  Then I sauteed all that for a couple of minutes to draw out the flavors.
 Next, I made polenta according to the directions on the bag and when it was done I mixed in the garlic, rosemary, chili peppers, and about a half a cup of shredded cheddar cheese.  Then I poured it out on a cookie sheet to cool and firm up.

I let it cool off for a few hours and it looked like this:
To make the chachouka, which is an African stew made with onions, peppers, tomatoes, and eggs, I began by peeling and slicing up a large white onion.  I sauteed it in some canola oil, a tea spoon of cumin powder, some sea salt, and crushed black pepper:

 As the onion cooked, I sliced up a sweet banana pepper, two thirds of a red bell pepper and two thirds of a yellow bell pepper.  Then I added them in the pan with the onions.  I also added four big sliced button mushrooms.

Then I got my tomatoes ready to be peeled.  I put some water on to boil and I sliced sliced off the top of the tomatoes where the stem comes out.  The I cut a cross into the bottom of each tomato.  When my water boiled I gently slid my tomatoes in, let them boil for less than a minutes, took them out, ran cold water over them, and I peeled them.  Then I dropped them in my mini food processor and turned them into liquid, which I added to the simmering veggies.  I also added a teaspoon of paprika and a dash of turmeric.

 Simmer down now...

When my mixture had cooked down slightly, I took the pan off the heat and I put four eggs on top of the stew and I baked it in the oven for about 18 minutes at 350 degrees.
While my eggs baked on my stew I tried to make polenta sicks but when I put my polenta slices in the pan they crumbled up.  So I dished out the polenta crumbles in some shallow bowls.

I took my stew out of the oven when it looked right and I served it over the polenta.  I actually left it in the oven a little too long because the yolks got hard, they're supposed to be runny, but it didn't matter and the dish tasted great.  The sweet peppers and the sweetness of the tomatoes helped temper the heat of the polenta.

Would I make this dish again?  Hell yes.  It's full of flavor and pretty easy to make.  I'm trying to eat less meat at supper so this is a welcome addition to my vegetarian repertoire.  It's hearty and full of flavor.  It's not really a summer time dish, it's more of a fall or winter dish.

I got both of these recipes out of the River Cottage Veg cookbook, which was written by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, a British cook, farmer, and food guru.  His food philosophy is to use locally grown, sustainably farmed food as much as possible.  I've made other recipes out of his cookbooks and I've liked all of them. 


C said...

Mmm, my mouth is watering... please can I come over and have supper with you some time?

(We call him Hugh Fearlessly-Eats-It-All over here, nothing escapes!)

gmb said...

I absolutely love Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I've read River Cottage Cookbook and have, but haven't yet looked at, River Cottage Veg. I will and soon. I make his Half the Garden soup a lot.