When Dave goes out of town, the happenings atop my stove get spicy and exotic. I cook within my comfort food zone. The meals are usually tropical recipes that involve rice (brown… I wish so much that white rice wasn’t horrible for us… le sigh), and generally made in big batches so I only have to cook once in order to cover several meals. This frees up my alone time to do like PT leg workouts with the cat staring at me, and to drink wine, wear sweatpants, and watch The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Those last three are one continuous activity, each component reliant on the others for success.
Here’s what I whipped up last week, while wearing a clay face mask and blaring Feist. An asopao is a variation on a rice stew, kind of like a tropical jambalaya.
TRINIDADIAN CHICKEN & SHRIMP ASOPAO
Adapted from Andrew Zimmern (I know, right?)
- 1/2 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 2 garlic cloves or 2 tsp crushed garlic
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted (see below)
- 3 tbsp olive or coconut oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped
- 1 yellow pepper, finely chopped
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- juice of 1 lime
- 1-2 serrano peppers, optional (could opt for jalapeno instead)
- 1 plum tomato, chopped
- 1 1/4 cup brown rice
- 2 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 can light coconut milk
- kosher salt & black pepper, to taste
Chop the chicken thighs into one-inch pieces, and mix with the garlic, oregano, and thyme. Cover this and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. It will be fine and no one will die or be poisoned, I swear. Meanwhile, chop all of your veggies, thaw the shrimp, if necessary, and thaw the peas. Preheat your oven to 400. Spread the shredded coconut across a baking sheet, and bake for 5 minutes, until toasted. Pour into a bowl to cool when done.
Ina large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken after it has marinated, scraping into the pan any yummy, garlicky thyme and oregano bits. Cook the chicken until browned, about five minutes, and remove with a slotted spoon to another bowl. Use a slotted spoon so you leave the fragrant olive or coconut oil behind.
Add the peppers and onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the rice and coconut and cook for another minute; then add the vinegar and stir, scraping up any browned bits at the bottom fo the pan. Add the tomatoes, add the chicken back to the pot, add the chicken broth and the coconut milk. Taste now and season with salt and pepper, and give the pot a good stir. Bring to a boil and then cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
When your 45 minutes is up, stir in the shrimp, peas, and lime juice; cover again and cook another 5-10 minutes, until the shrimp are cooked and the rice is tender. Serve with lime wedges and hot sauce. I have been reading this post back to myself in the voice of Sebastian the crab as I type…. Disney movies are another home-alone guilty pleasure, and this dish would pair well with The Little Mermaid. Or The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants, whichever. Enjoy!