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April 26th, 2010:

CIA One Dish Meals: Not Technically One Dish, But Still Good

sauteed chicken with Moroccan hot and sweet tomato sauce

DinnerPlateApril has kind of gotten away from me, and this project with it. I’m still figuring out what I need to do to complete the remaining cookbooks by the end of June; I think I have a lot of work ahead of me. I’m on vacation this week (except for Wednesday when I have to work all day — I know, shut up) and was thinking I’d dive in and do a huge amount of cooking. But there are other PeelingTomatothings begging to be done too. Tomorrow I will be going through my notes to see just what it will take to come close to meeting my goal. You’ll see more recipes from me this week, but probably not every day.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not giving up. I may not meet the end-of-June deadline, but I’m going to cook from each book one TomatoSauceButterway or another.

Still, today I can check off one more book: The Culinary Institute of America One Dish Meals. This book is full of wonderful-looking soups, stews, stir-fries, salads and more. There were a lot of promising possibilities for a chilly, wet evening. I settled on sauteed chicken with Moroccan hot and sweet tomato sauce because it BrowningOnionlooked fairly simple and didn’t require a lot of ingredients I didn’t already have. That’s no small consideration; the CIA recipes call for lots of things that aren’t usually in my pantry, including galangal, slab bacon and sake. (Not all in the same dish, thank heavens.) But for this one I just had to get the fresh ingredients and one can of tomato puree.

IngredientsI did my chopping first (including some Brussels sprouts to serve on the side), then started by making a separate tomato sauce that gets added to the larger recipe. I blanched and peeled some plum tomatoes, then seeded and pureed them. I brought the puree to a simmer in a saucepan, added some canned tomato sauce, and let it simmer about 10 minutes. I swirled in some butter and added OnionWithSpicessalt and pepper, then set the mixture aside.

While the tomato sauce simmered I browned some chicken breasts in olive oil and set them aside. I also pureed some chopped onion and garlic. In the pot in which I’d browned the chicken, I heated some butter, then added the onion and garlic mixture and let it cook about 10 minutes, until it TomatoMolassesOnionSpiceswas quite dark and had a rich, kind of sweet aroma. A really great aroma, in fact, deeper and more intriguing than the usual delightful smell of frying onions.

I added some cinnamon, ground ginger and cayenne and cooked it all together for a few minutes. Then I added a cup of the tomato sauce and a tablespoon of molasses (the recipe calls for dark ChickenForFinalCookhoney but says to substitute molasses if you can’t find it), and let that mixture cook for another 5 minutes or so. Then I added the chicken breasts, spooned sauce over them, covered the pan and let it all cook for 20 minutes more. I served the chicken and sauce with rice and Brussels sprouts, and sprinkled some chopped cilantro and sesame seeds over the chicken before ChickenCookeddigging in. (If you think the rice is a bit odd-looking, you’re right; I found at the last minute I had insufficient amounts of either white basmati or brown basmati for dinner, so I mixed them — successfully, I’m relieved to say.)

This dish tasted tremendous. The sauce has a rich and unusual flavor: only a little hot, but with DinnerPlates4an earthy undertone. The tomato and molasses come together nicely.

Verdict: Success. I will make this again, and I will have to make some of the book’s other dishes soon as well.