No food feast today, although a couple of friends did stomp in out of the rain for an exchange of presents and talk-story. Chris, the Feldenkrais teacher whose avocation for years was helping out on her neighbor’s now-decommissioned dairy farm, explained how to bale hay. Kris, the residential karate student from Hawaii, showed us YouTube videos of very masculine and martial traditional hula. Chris brought us an artist’s print of the Japanese ideogram for “friend,” which touched me.
Our food feast was Wednesday night, when the core of the karate dojo came over and I had nine to feed. Since people, including two young boys, would be sitting on the couch and eating, I wanted to make some kind of easy-to-eat one-bowl meal. For some mysterious reason, Mexican chicken stew came unbidden to mind. Encouraged and supplied by Amy (the brown belt on the other side of J in our holiday card), and loosely guided by two recipes on the ‘Net, I made the following, which was easy and absolutely delicious. The only part of it that takes any time is cutting stuff up, and it’s almost impossible to ruin. Quantities and seasoning may be varied according to circumstances and taste. This fed 9 hungry people with 2 days of leftovers for two. (Note that I cut the ingredients pretty small so J won’t choke. You could cube them larger if you want.)
5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut small (~3/4″)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut small
1 green pepper, cut small
1 red pepper, cut small
1 large onion, chopped
several cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
3 cans corn kernels, drained
3 cans black beans, drained
1 large can diced or crushed tomatoes, with liquid
cumin, to taste
cinnamon, to taste
salt to taste
cayenne or chili pepper, ground, to taste
chopped cilantro, to taste
1. Toss the cut-up chicken in a bowl with a handful of flour (adjust to amount) to coat.
2. Heat olive oil — enough to spread out and coat the bottom when hot — in a large stew pot.
3. Toss in chicken and cook at medium high heat, stirring and scraping often, for a few minutes, till no pink is showing.
4. Remove chicken to a bowl. Replace olive oil and heat.
5. Cook sweet potato, peppers, onion, and garlic, covered, stirring often, 7 minutes or until onion is translucent and soft.
6. Add back chicken. Add corn, black beans, tomatoes, 1-2 cups water, conservatively generous amounts of cumin and cinnamon; salt; and a pinch of hot red pepper.
7. Simmer, partially covered, ~15 minutes or until thick.
8. Stir in chopped cilantro; let stand for 5 minutes.
9. Taste, and add more cumin, cinnamon, hot red pepper, cilantro, and/or salt to taste.
10. Serve with sour cream, grated cheddar cheese, and cut limes to squeeze juice on top.
Excellent with any kind of cornbread.