Things have been in a bit of a rut and I was sure a run to the Farmer’s Market would change my luck. I was dead right- check out the blog to see what eight dollars can buy. As a bonus, sneaking out of work and grabbing a morning run in the fresh air was terrific. I arrived at the market feeling perky and was totally ready to invest in fresh chili ingredients. Man, it was lovely.
In stark contrast, running the return route to work (3 kilometers) with the vegetal treasures ended up morphing into a long strange trip. First, there is no way to look graceful while hauling 6 ears of corn, 3 giant cucumbers, 3 heads of lettuce, a bunch of cilantro, a heap of green onions, and several sprigs of basil. It just ain’t happening chief. I looked like a bear on roller skates. Second, once you are able to get going with two bags of heavy produce tucked clumsily under arm, shit grows uncomfortable in a hurry. It was next to impossible to position the ears of corn in such a way that at least one of them wasn’t lancing my epidermis. Third, once I was able to reconnoiter the goods such that I wasn’t suffering mightily, I began to perspire and the bags became more slippery than a greased pig. In my experience, handling a non-greased pig is seriously ticklish business. I can’t imagine how off the hook an attempt to handle any greased porker would be. Anyhow, I made it back to my building having dropped only one cucumber. I consider the dust and gravel mere seasonings (ok, I’ll wash it extra well).
Tonight I use the basil, cilantro, and green onions along with cha cha chicken and rice. This dish is an unrepentant collision of Thai, Indian, and Chili cuisine.
1 T cooking oil
4 cloves garlic
1 C chopped onion
2 T chili powder (divided)
1 t paprika
1 t garlic salt
1 T red curry paste
20 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast cubed
1 T fish sauce
1 ½ C jasmine rice
2 ¾ C water
2 T chicken soup base
½ t ground pepper
1 C Chopped green onion
1 C Chopped fresh cilantro
½ C Chopped fresh basil
- Fry garlic, onion, 1 T chili powder, paprika, and garlic salt over high heat for about 3 minutes.
- Add curry paste and fry another 3 minutes.
- Add chicken and fish sauce and fry until chicken in nearly cooked through.
- Remove chicken from the pan and add dry rice.
- Fry dried rice for 5 minutes allowing it to mix with the remaining seasonings.
- Add water, soup base, another 1 T of chili powder, and pepper.
- Cook until the rice has aborbed the liquid.
- Add the chicken back to the pot containing rice.
- Mix everything well and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Turn off heat and add green onion, cilantro, and basil, mixing well.
I’d place the cha cha chicken and rice chili in the top 5 chilis I have made this year. It was terrific when served piping hot off the stove. The chicken was tender and the rice was spicy-rrific. There was a clear and evident heat that had enough pop and staying power to make one stand up and pay attention. The ITP, with their milder palates, tolerated the spice well, as the “hot” was balanced nicely by the intricacy of the other seasonings. The cilantro and basil clearly added to the flavor complexity. This cha cha (chili) was one small step (actually a 6K run) for me, but one giant leap for chili flavor.