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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Recipe: Chicken Jollof Rice Ghana

Chicken Jollof Rice Ghana


2 cups long grain white rice (not parboiled)
4 cups water or broth or a combination (including up to a cup of drained juice from tomatoes)
3 good-sized cloves of garlic (about 1 Tablespoon), minced or crushed
2 cups fresh grated tomatoes, seeded (discard peelings) (OR 2 cups well-drained well-chopped tomatoes, OR 2 cups pureed tomatoes)
1 medium onion, finely chopped (a good cup)
fresh vegetables, about 2-3 cups, such as 1 carrot peeled and diced, frozen green peas, and other vegetables such as bell peppers or green beans (OR substitute frozen mixed vegetables) 1 bay leaf (optional)
1/2 teaspoon black or white pepper (optional)
1 Tablespoon freshly peeled, grated ginger
5 Tablespoons (1/3 cup) of tomato paste
about 1/2 teaspoon of dried ground cayenne pepper (or chopped fresh chili peppers, but be careful because the hotness may vary)
1/3 - 1/2 cup (5 - 8 Tablespoons) peanut or other vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt or to taste (plain or Adobo or other seasoning salt)
1 teaspoon curry powder (OR thyme, about 1/2 teaspoon)
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken cubed, or 3 pounds with bones and cut into small pieces, breaking the bones with a heavy cleaver (for example, cut a thigh or drumstick into 2 pieces)
Realistically, you'll probably use frying chicken, but free-range or roasting chicken would be

This version is easily doubled or tripled.

1. First prepare all the ingredients: remove the skin and fat from the chicken and cut it into pieces, gather the spices, chop the onion, grate the ginger, drain and prepare the tomatoes, etc.
2. In a bowl, mix about 1/4 cup of the chopped onions with a little (maybe 1/4 of the garlic and ginger, about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon black (or white) pepper and 1/8 teaspoon red pepper and stir well. Allow it to marinate for a few minutes.
2. Heat 3 or 4 Tablespoons of oil in a heavy skillet, add a couple of tablespoons of onion and brown the chicken on medium high heat in 2 batches (so you don't crowd them), adding another 1/4 cup of chopped onions and another Tablespoon of oil if necessary with the second batch. As the chicken browns put the pieces into a large roaster or casserole dish (I usually make this in quantity and you may notice that in the first picture above I started with small enameled roasting pan, but had to switch to a larger one before I added the liquid. Make sure your pan will hold all of the chicken, rice, liquid and vegetables!)
3. While you're browning the chicken, put the 4 cups of broth/water/tomato juice into a saucepan with a bay leaf if you're using it and heat to a boil, then keep warm until you need it. Turn the oven on to 350 degrees Farenheit to preheat, and make sure your oven rack is low enough to place your covered roasting pan on it.
4. After all the chicken is browned, add another 3 - 4 Tablespoon of oil, the remaining onion, garlic, ginger, and curry powder or thyme (if using either), and stir fry together for a few minutes, then stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste and pepper, and salt.
5. Add the 2 cups of rice to the roasting pan with the chicken.
6. Pour the heated liquid (broth/water/tomato juice mixture) into the skillet with the tomato paste and tomato and stir to loosen the onion from the pan, then pour then liquid from the pan into the roasting pan, stir well, cover and place in the oven.
7. Cook covered for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven once to check rice for doneness and to see if a little more liquid is needed. If so, add a little water or broth. Stir the rice from the outside in as the outside edges will brown faster than the inside. Return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes while you prepare the vegetables.
8. Peel and dice the vegetables and cook separately, either in a microwave or on the stove top.
9. Remove the rice and stir in the vegetables.
10. Garnish as desired.

NOTES: Alternatively, this may all be cooked in a large pot on the stovetop, but beware of burning the rice on the bottom and/or stirring too often and making the rice mushy. Also, the vegetables may be added directly to the rice while it is cooking, or stirred in during the final minutes before it is done.

This is one of those wonderful recipes that tastes even better the day after it was made, and also freezes nicely. In Ghana it is often served with braised cabbage on the side and/or Ghana-style gravy, or shito (hot pepper sauce).

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