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Cuban Okra and Chicken Stew (Quimbombó Guisado con Pollo)

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In this Quimbombo, stir in blanched okra at the last minute.

This African-influenced Cuban stew was presented by Maricel Presilla at the Latin Flavors, American Kitchens symposium at the Culinary Institute of America’s San Antonio campus.

Cuban Okra and Chicken Stew (Quimbombó Guisado con Pollo)

4 large garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of allspice
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/3 cup bitter orange juice or a 50/50 mixture of orange juice and lime juice
8 chicken thighs, skin removed
2 pounds small okra

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 Spanish chorizos, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 habanero or Scotch bonnet, finely chopped
1 pound plum tomatoes, fresh or canned, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup tomato sauce (optional)
1 cup beer
3 cups chicken broth

Plantain dumplings:
2 green plantains, peeled and cut into thirds
1 yellow plantain, peeled and cut into thirds
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and mashed into a paste using a mortar and pestle
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the chicken: Crush the garlic, cumin, allspice and salt to a paste with a mortar and pestle. Mix in the orange juice. Rub this marinade over the chicken and refrigerate, covered, 3 to 4 hours.

For the okra: Trim the okra and cut into 1/2-inch slices (yields about 6 cups) and place in a large bowl. (Some people find the mucilaginous juice exuded by okra unappealing. To remove, place okra into a large bowl and run cold water over it while swishing around with your hand. Drain and return okra to the original bowl.) Add 8 cups of hot water and some citrus juice. Set aside.

For the chicken: Scrape the marinade from the chicken and reserve. Heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Working in batches, if necessary, to avoid crowding, sauté the chicken to golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

For the sofrito: Add the chorizo to the pot used for the chicken and cook until lightly browned. Add the remaining marinade and cook briefly, stirring to get up the brown bits. Add the onion and habanero and sauté until the onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce, if using, and beer. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the chicken to the sofrito and reduce the heat to low. Cover and let simmer until the chicken is tender, about 35 minutes. Drain the water from the okra and add okra to the pot. Cook until tender, about 15 more minutes.

For the dumplings: While the stew simmers, place plantains and 8 cups of water into a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.

While still hot, mash the plantains to a coarse purée with a mortar and pestle or a potato masher. Mix in the mashed garlic, broth, olive oil and salt. Divide into 16 equal portions and roll into balls. Set aside. Add the dumplings to the stew a few minutes before serving and them heat through. Serve in a deep soup bowl over rice.

Note: The okra in this stew will turn an olive green after simmering. If you want bright green okra to color your dish, then add blanched okra at the last minute.

Makes 8 servings.

From Maricel Presilla/Culinary Institute of America

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