Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Spicy Caribbean Rum and Pineapple Braised Chicken

This is a dish which first came about when I began wondering why rum is most often used only in the preparation of puddings/desserts. I started thinking about how I could incorporate it in a main course dish and first prepared something like this as a casserole in the oven, where I used whole pieces of chicken, i.e. legs and thighs. I did not use the honey or the chilli pepper on that occasion but the dish was so delicious, I decided to try to develop it and make it a little bit quicker to cook at the same time.

This dish is moderately spicy, so if you do not like spicy food, simply omit the chilli pepper, or remove and discard the seeds and membrane.

Ingredients to Serve Two

1/2 lb filleted chicken breast meat
1 medium onion
1 8oz can pineapple pieces in pineapple juice
3 fl oz Caribbean Dark Rum
1 pint fresh chicken stock
1 tbsp clear honey
1 small red chilli pepper
1 clove of garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp cornflour (corn starch)
1 medium tomato
2 basil leaves and two small basil sprigs

4oz basmati rice


The chicken breast should be chopped in to bite sized pieces. The onion should be peeled and quartered, the chilli pepper finely chopped and the garlic clove peeled to be later grated in to the pot.

The honey should be placed in to a large pot and brought up to a moderate to high heat. I am basically sealing the chicken meat in the honey by adding it alone in the first instance. The honey will not seal it so well as oil would but neither will it create oily residue nor crisp parts of the chicken.

The chicken should be stirred around in the honey with a wooden spoon over a high heat until it turns opaque. The onion and chilli should then be added and stirred around before the pineapple and juice, chicken stock and rum are added in that order. (Safety Note: Do not add the rum first - we are not trying to flambe, nor to set the kitchen on fire!) The garlic should be grated in at this point and the heat turned up high to bring the mixture to a simmer. The heat should then be reduced to low, the lid placed on the pot and the dish left to cook for thirty minutes.

When the chicken dish has been simmering for half an hour, it is time to start the rice. The rice should be placed in a sieve and washed under running cold water to remove the excess starch. It should then be added to a pot of boiling, lightly salted water and stirred firmly for a few seconds, then left to simmer for ten to twelve minutes.

When the rice has started cooking, the cornflour should be mixed in to a paste in a small bowl with a little cold water, before being added to the chicken broth. This will serve to help thicken the remaining liquid. The tomato should be cut in to six or eight pieces and also added, along with one of the basil leaves, roughly torn. They should all be stirred through before the heat is turned off and the pot is covered and left alone until the rice is ready.

When the rice has been drained through a sieve, it can be simply spooned on to the plate. I like, however, to line a small bowl with clingfilm, pack the rice inside and then upend this on to the plate. The bowl should lift free fairly easily and the clingfilm can be peeled away.

The Spicy Rum and Pineapple Braised Chicken can then be spooned around the rice. The remaining basil leaf should be torn to garnish the chicken and the two basil sprigs used as a garnish for the rice.

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