Spicy Chicken Stew in a Crisp Plantain Crust
- SERVINGS: 4-6
This unusual sweet and savory recipe was given to Marcia Kiesel by her friend Harry Reillo of Quebradillas, the "town of pirates," on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico.
- One 4-pound chicken
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 scallions, sliced crosswise
- 2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 2 teaspoons hot or mild pure chile powder
- 2 large very ripe plantains, sliced diagonally 1-inch thick
- 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Set the chicken in a roasting pan, rub with 1 tablespoon of the oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for about 1 1/2 hours, basting often, until golden and cooked through. Transfer to a platter. Discard any fat from the pan and set it over 2 burners. Add 1/2 cup of water and simmer over moderate heat for 2 minutes, scraping up the browned bits. Pour the juices into a bowl. Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces. Discard the skin and bones.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and scallions and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and simmer over moderate heat until the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Stir in the thyme and chile powder and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the chicken and juices and simmer for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Wipe out the skillet and heat the remaining 1 cup oil over moderately high heat until shimmering. Add a single layer of plantain slices and fry, turning once, until well browned, about 4 minutes per side; if necessary, lower the heat to cook the plantains all the way through. Transfer to a plate to cool and repeat with the remaining plantains. Lightly flatten the slices with a rolling pin or meat pounder to 1/3-inch thickness between 2 pieces of sturdy plastic wrap. Press the flattened plantains into a 9-inch glass pie plate, overlapping them slightly to cover the bottom.
- Spoon the stew into the plantain-lined pie plate. Sprinkle with the feta and bake for about 45 minutes, or until heated through and the plantains on the bottom sizzle. Cut into wedges and serve.
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