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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.

  1. One 4-pound chicken
  2. 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  3. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  4. 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  5. 1 medium red bell pepper, coarsely chopped
  6. 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  7. 2 scallions, sliced crosswise
  8. 2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  9. 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  10. 2 teaspoons hot or mild pure chile powder
  11. 2 large very ripe plantains, sliced diagonally 1-inch thick
  12. 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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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