Chicken, Shrimp, Peanut and Cashew Stew
This stew is about simple ingredients but with an exotic result. The favorite Bahian combination of chicken and shrimp comes together in a creamy sauce. The nuts serve as the perfect binding agents for the coconut milk and chicken stock but they have to be finely ground – if they are too coarse, they just won’t do the work. On the other hand, you have to be careful not to turn the nuts into a paste. The recipe can be prepared up to 2 days ahead of time and re-heats extremely well. If you prefer to make it ahead of time, it’s best to hold the shrimp and add them to the pan 5 minutes before serving.
I like to serve this dish by itself, but if you would like a starch to go with it, white rice or Farofa would be nice.
Serves 6 to 8
Ingredients1 whole chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut into 8 pieces with the skin on
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
½ pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, about 20 shrimp
4 tablespoons dende oil
½ cup unsalted peanuts, roasted
½ cup unsalted cashews, roasted
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped, about 1 cup
2 scallions (white and green parts), chopped, about ¼ cup
4 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and diced, about 1 ½ cups
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ cups coconut milk
1 ½ cups chicken stock
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon paprika
½ cup fresh chopped cilantro
1. Place the chicken pieces in a medium bowl and add the garlic and lime juice. Massage the chicken, making sure the juice is well distributed. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the chicken to marinate at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes while you prepare the other ingredients.
2. In another bowl, place the shrimp and 2 tablespoons of the dende oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature. (If you are making the dish ahead of time, save the shrimp and marinade).
3. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, grind the cashews and peanuts until they are finely ground, being careful that they do not release oil and become a paste like peanut butter. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
4. Remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe off any remaining garlic. Lightly pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
5. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large sauté pan, and cook the chicken pieces over medium heat, until they are lightly browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Make sure you do not crowd the pan to prevent sticking. If necessary, do it in batches and as you remove the chicken pieces, place them on a plate and cover them with foil or a lid to keep them warm and moist. You don’t want to cook the chicken entirely while browning. It will finish cooking while braising in the sauce.
6. Add the remaining olive oil and cook the onion and scallions, stirring occasionally and scraping the brown bits off the bottom of the pan, until the onions are soft and tender, about 3 minutes.
7. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and ground nuts and stir to blend well, about 1 minute.
8. Add the coconut milk, chicken stock, turmeric, and paprika, and let the sauce come to a simmer.
9. Lower the heat to its lowest setting, then add the chicken pieces and all the juices that have accumulated in the bowl. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through; it should remain tender and moist, about 25 to 30 minutes. (Reserve the stew at this point if you want to serve it at a later date. Store it in a plastic container covered with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)
10. Meanwhile, remove the shrimp from the bowl and pat them dry. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
11. In a medium sized skillet, heat the remaining dende oil and cook the shrimp just until they start to turn orange, about 1 minute per side.
12. Pour the shrimp and any remaining dende oil from the pan, right into the chicken stew, cover, and cook so the shrimp has a chance to braise with the chicken, about 3 to 4 minutes. At this point the mixture should look orangy- red and the nuts will have thickened the stew but also made it slightly gritty. You want it to be just a little pasty from the nuts. If the stew is too thick, add another tablespoon or so of chicken stock.
13. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Garnish with the cilantro.
Paprika (note from Sara – if you cannot find colorifico (a.k.a colorau), this is the perfect substitute)
All paprikas are made from dried chilies and red bell peppers. The two most popular are Hungarian paprika, with a sweet taste and a vibrant red color, and the smoked Spanish paprika for which the peppers are smoked over an oak fire, with a richer taste and a darker red. Feel free to choose your favorite.
Removing Tomato Skin
The best way to remove the skins of tomatoes, is to cut a little X mark on the smooth end of the fruit and plunge them in boiling water for 10 to15 seconds. Remove them from the boiling water and transfer them immediately to a bowl filled with iced water to stop the cooking. Peel the skin off- it should come off very easily. Be careful not to overcook the tomatoes by leaving them for more than a few seconds in the water.
When cutting the chicken, aim for 2 wings, 2 breasts, 2 drumsticks and 2 thighs. If that takes up a lot of space in the pan and will require for you to use 2 skillets, you can also cut the chicken in 6 pieces, leaving the thigh and drum attached and cutting them apart only when they go to the braising stage. It is also possible to buy the chicken pre-cut from the market.
Refreshing, cool, sweet, and festive, caipirinha is Brazil. And if caipirinha is Brazil, then cachaça is our national shrine. Caipirinha is a simple cocktail based on a mixture of mashed lime with sugar, ice, and cachaça
2 limes, ends trimmed off and cut into medium-sized wedges
1 tablespoon sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons cachaça (adjust amount to taste)
Using a muddler, or the end of a wooden spoon, mash the limes with the sugar, making sure to squeeze all the juices from the lime and to dissolve the sugar in the juice.
Transfer the lime mixture to a shaker. Add the cachaça and ice cubes. Shake well (8-10 times) and pour into a large, but not tall, glass.