April 24, 2010

...kabocha chickpea chicken yum yum...

A long overdue, out of season, slightly misleadingly named pseudo-recipe.  I have the Ultimate Recipe Swap over at Life As Mom to thank for finally motivating me to post my favorite chickpea dish.  A recipe and a story - though the story content is largely about squash, this dish would not be the same without the chickpeas.  I know I tried it.
I have a co-worker.  In addition to being a teacher, she is also a farmer.  She brings me fresh produce every time I teach a class with her.
Oh no.  I just had a moment of panic.  I think we are supposed to teach on Tuesday together, but I haven't done any planning.  Oh well.  It's Sunday.  I should leave the worries of tomorrow for tomorrow and simply enjoy this beautiful morning.
Back on track.  Sometimes she brings me produce that I don't really know how to handle.  This recipe was born out of one such exchange.  She gave me a かぼちゃ - a kabocha.  Japanese pumpkins are all the rage these days, I know.  They have made it to thekitchn on numerous occasions.  I think of them more like big, tough acorn squash.  Don't be intimidated, they are just a winter squash.
 photo via here - with a great recipe for simmered kabocha and chicken.
Back to the story/pseudo recipe.  After a particularly stimulating class on Barrack Obama in which we played bingo in honor of his winning the nobel prize, I was awarded this:
well.  not that exact one.  I found it here. Apparently it's a Blue Hubbard Squash.  Also referred to by my coworker as a 'rugby shaped kabocha.'
I went hunting for a recipe.  I wanted to find something really tasty.  Most of the recipes I found were a little pretentious, too difficult with my current kitchen, or too traditional for my taste.  Also, ManInCharge is not a fan of these squash, he thinks they are a lot of work.  They're not really.  {Unless you have a husband who doesn't like the tougher, yet edible skin and have a sub-par peeler or no adequate knife.}  This meant that I had to find a recipe that would knock his socks off.  {FYI: Two acorn squash is a completely acceptable substitution for the kabocha/blue hubbard squash in the recipe.  Just add it a bit later to adjust for the increased delicacy of the flesh.}  Below is what I settled upon.
1 large onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 nub of garlic {~1 inch square}
2 chicken breasts {or 4 thighs}
1 12oz can of whole tomatoes, liquid & all
1 kabocha {cleaned and cored, chopped into 1~2 inch pieces, removing the green is optional}
1 12oz can of chickpeas, drained
Any sad looking veggies hanging around that need to be cooked.
1 bay leaf
olive oil
salt, pepper, nutmeg & cinnamon for seasoning
How To:
{this is not really a recipe, and so it is at this point an assembly process}
Heat olive oil in the bottom of a heavy gauge pot, dutch oven or wok.  {This is not a fussy dish.}  Cut your chicken into bite sized pieces.  Brown it in the oil & then remove.  Rough chop onions & throw them in.  Let them sweat a bit & just barely start to get brown.  Rough chop garlic & mince the ginger.  As the onions start to gain a small bit of color toss in the garlic & ginger.  Now add your dry spices. {Bay leaf, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp of nutmeg, a few shots of pepper}  Heat them up until just fragrant - about 30 seconds.  Toss in the tomatoes.  Throw in a dash of salt.  Turn up the heat & let the tomatoes cook.  They will be ready when their color shifts from red to a more orange-red.  Add back in your chicken.  After about 5 minutes add in the kabocha, chickpeas and any additional veg you want.  {I almost always use carrots, sometimes sweet peppers and LOVE hearty greens in this, though save them for right before serving.}  Cook it up until the squash is tender & the chicken is cooked through (about 15-20 min) and serve.  Check for seasoning.  It probably needs a bit of salt and maybe a bit more pepper. 
I serve it with rice, because I live in Japan, but this dish will stand alone, or even throw a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream on it if you so desire.  Bad photo, delicious dish.  This recipe comfortably serves two and change, or a family of four if you incorporate a salad into your meal plan.

ps - ChefTerri - this is for you.  I finally posted the recipe!

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