Cooking, Family, Food and Drink, Recipes

Friday Food and Drink Post: All in the Family

Perhaps it’s the sight of Harry and Meghan with their bundle of joy that’s got me thinking about a long-gone and long-running television program, or perhaps I’ve reached that stage in my life where I enjoy reliving my youth, I don’t know. I did see that his parents have eschewed any sort of title for little Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor (yes, doesn’t it sound like something straight out of Wodehouse) and that reminds me of a conversation here several weeks ago about whether or not the latest little royal might, at some point, be both King and President simultaneously or even at the same time. General opinion was, because of the Constitution’s “Titles of Nobility” clause, the answer was a big, fat, “No.”

Well, absent any such title, and with a little succession finagling, looks like what’s left of Britain might be on the way to taking back what’s left of the USA in, oh let’s see (takes shoes and socks off), 2054. Just in time to celebrate my centenary! God Save the Prez. Hail to the King! (lol. Please take this in the light-hearted spirit in which it’s offered and don’t get all het up.)

Were I in charge of the succession, I’d actually skip over Charles, Wills, and even George, and go straight to the first female in the direct line, little Princess Charlotte who, at the age of three, faced down a slavering horde of reporters outside the chapel where her infant brother was about to be christened, announced “You’re not coming,” and turned round and marched down the aisle without them. She might be exactly what the UK needs right about now. But I digress.

So. Back to the food.

Any good family recipes you’d be willing to share on this Mothers’ Day weekend? Something of Mom’s? Your own specialty? A tradition? A “mistake” that turned out great and became a family favorite? Something else?

To get things started, I offer “Groundnut Chop,” a family staple for over half a century, and an adaptation of a Nigerian dish that could be described as a chicken and peanut stew. Dad had the magic touch for this dish, and his recipe follows. You can halve the quantities, and still have a pretty good bowl of the stuff for your efforts. (Unfortunately, Mum wasn’t a very good, or even interested, cook, and I think I already mentioned what I remember as her one and only really delicious dish, Liver and Onions on my post about offal).

Groundnut Chop is a very pretty dish, made so by the assortment of fresh and cooked “side dishes” with which it is garnished. Dad always said there should be at least 16, so I’ll suggest: sliced bananas, fried bananas, shredded coconut (unsweetened), raisins, chopped bell pepper (all colors is nice), chopped fresh onions, fried onions, chopped tomatoes, chopped oranges, grated cheese, plain yogurt, unsalted peanuts, chopped cucumber, pineapple, sliced mushrooms, and chopped papaya. A longer list is here, on my brother’s website, where he gives the same recipe and recounts the side dishes on offer (over 100) the last time we ate this together as a family while Mum and Dad were still with us.

Pick quantities to serve eight hearty eaters.

*Have ready sufficient chicken portions (see notes) to provide a wing, one drumstick, one thigh and half of a breast for each person.

*Bone out the portions and stew all bones, giblets, trimmings etc., to make a good strong broth. Do not bone out the wings, however.

*Using groundnut oil or corn oil, fry all chicken until a light golden brown and just beginning to crisp.

*Remove from pan and allow to drip dry.

*In the same oil fry two large onions , sliced thin, until well browned. Drain thoroughly.

*Hard boil one small egg per person. Peel and put in salted water to cool and set for at least half an hour.

*Assemble 3/4 of cup each of diced sweet peppers, sultanas, raisins, currants, unsalted peanuts (wash the salt off if you can’t get anything else) and a couple of Okra per person (obtainable from Sainsbury’s), two teaspoons grated ginger, a cupful of raw onion chopped small and a cupful of sliced tomatoes.

*One pound jar of crunchy peanut butter and one half-pound jar of smooth peanut butter.

You can now set to work!

In a large casserole put a sprinkling of the fried onions and of the diced peppers, etc., the grated ginger and the chopped onions and tomatoes. Now put in a layer of the fried chicken portions. Then repeat the other items, then more chicken pieces etc. and so on. Don’t over fill. Leave a good space at the top. Put in the hard-boiled eggs (see notes).

Take a pint and a half of stock (from bones etc.) and blend into it enough peanut butter (2/3 crunchy and 1/3 smooth) to make a thickish creamy liquid (see notes). Pour into casserole and allow to settle. This is best done with the stock hot.

Repeat the same mixture until enough has been made to cover the eggs.

Put in oven at 325F for two hours.(Keep an eye on it. If it seems to be bubbling too fast, turn the heat down). The lid should be tight fitting. If not put a square of oven foil under the lid first and then put the lid on.

Serve on boiled rice (see notes) and allow guests to add garnishes from an array of side dishes. To be authentic there should be at least 16. The most I ever saw was 103.

Serve with very cold cider.

NOTES:  *I often use boneless chicken breasts and cut each one in half. When I do this, I cheat on the broth, using Better Than Bouillon chicken base. *It’s easy to get carried away while adding the peanut butter, and to say to yourself “it’s not thick enough.” It will thicken as it cooks, so add peanut butter until you have about the consistency of heavy (unwhipped) cream, and you should be fine. I like lots of liquid in my stew, more than Dad did. *Some people don’t care for the hard boiled eggs actually in the stew. It’s fine to chop them and use them as a side dish, to sprinkle over (small eggs work better than large ones, if you do put them in the stew). *Just regular long-grain rice is best; no need for basmati or jasmine.

It’s your turn. Please share.

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