As a food freak who loves foreign cuisines that integrate lots of spices, who is always looking for new taste adventures, who is constantly hungry for surprising culinary discoveries and who is open to widening her gastronomical horizon, it is not a surprise if the Creole cuisine has made it's grand entry in my kitchen and is now occupying my thoughts.
The Creole cuisine is extremely varied, with origins ranging from Africa, Europe to India. It has also been inspired by the native people of the places invaded/colonized. This cuisine takes advantages of what the sea offers and of the creativity of the inhabitants. You'll find this kind of food in various countries where the slave trade took place: in the Indian Ocean (Réunion, Mauritus, Seychelles, etc...), in the Caribbean (Haiti, Trinidad, Dominica, etc...), in the USA (Louisiana). There are even little communities in the Philippines, in Africa and South America. It is a culinary tradition with an important historical background and which is (unfortunately) rooted in suffering...
The recipe that is featured here has become a classic at home. Since the day (3 years ago) it has graced my plate for the very first time, this dish holds an important space in my heart.
This "Chicken In Vanilla Sauce" is originally a speciality from Réunion, an island in the Indian Ocean. In order to come up with my own version of that recipe, I got my inspiration from many different sources, went through a lot of brainstorming and experimenting in the kitchen, and I must say that the result is remarkably delicious whether it is made with chicken or pork!
It is a very original dish as vanilla is rarely associated with savory food, although it brings an undeniably delightful and surprising touch to any meal. The sweet and round flavors of this spice pair perfectly well with ingredients such as coconut milk, curcuma and chicken that can be placed in a similar taste category. On the other hand, the use of tomato puree and of various fragrant alcohols counterbalances the overall sweetness of the dish by adding a pleasant tinge of acidity that gives it a lot of dynamism and punch. This unique combination of flavors makes the "Chicken In Vanilla Sauce" dish a delicate, yet tasty and gorgeously mind tumbling speciality. It is so magical, stunning and intoxicatingly chock-a-block full with wonderful aromas synonymous of exotism, voluptuousness and fantasy that you'll be immediately conquered.
A dream dish that'll carry you away and transform you into it's most faithful admirer!
Recipe by Rosa @ Rosa's Yummy Yums
Ingredients for the marinade:
800g Chicken thighs, skinned, boned and cubed
3 Tsps Cognac
2 Tbs Light soy sauce
3 Tbs Light runny honey
2 Cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbs Olive oil
Pepper, to taste
Ingredients for the vanilla infusion:
300ml White wine
2 Pods vanilla, split & seeds scraped
5 Tbs Whisky
1 tbs Dark rum
Ingredients for the sauce (final method/steps):
2 Tbs Olive oil
2 Medium onions, chopped
3 Cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 Tsp Dried thyme
1-1 1/2 Tsps Ground curcuma
3 1/2 Tsps Plain white flour
2 Big tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped, cooked & reduced to a purree
1 1/2 Tbs Tomatoe puree (canned)
1 Cube chicken stock
1/4 Cup Hot water (for the stock)
300-450ml Double cream or coconut milk
Salt, to taste
Method for the marinade:
1. Blend together the cognac, soy sauce, olive oil, honey, garlic and pepper.
2. Add the chicken and allow to marinade in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.
Method for the vanilla infusion:
3. In a pan, mix all ingredients and bring to the boil.
4. Simmer for about 2 minutes over low heat.
5. Remove from the heat and let infuse for about 1 hour.
6. Then, remove the vanilla pods and scrape them well.
7. Set aside.
Final method (sauce):
8. Dissolve the chicken stock in the water.
9. Over high heat, heat up oil in a frying pan.
10. Remove the chicken from the marinade and fry chicken in batches, until well-browned, about 1 minute on each side.
11. Set the meat aside.
12. Then, add the onions and fry over medium heat until they are translucid.
13. Add the garlic, thyme, curcuma and flour.
14. Stir-fry for about 1 minute.
15. Then, add the chicken stock (cube + water), "vanilla infusion", homemade tomato puree, tomato puree (canned) and stir energically.
16. Pour the cream/coconut milk into the pan, stir well and let simmer for about 30-45 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.
17. Add the chicken and salt to taste.
18. Simmer for another 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
You can replace the chicken thighs by the same quantity of chicken breast meat, but the it might be less tender...
Instead of using chicken, you can choose pork (shoulder) that you'll cube.
If you don't have any cognac for the marinade, then take so me sherry or whisky and if you don't have any whisky for the "vanilla infusion", then take either cognac or sherry.
If you don't fancy coconut milk, then replace it by the same quantity heavy cream.
Be careful when you add the liquid to the flour mixture (faux roux)! It might thicken very quickly, so I recommend you to act real fast (stirring enerically) in order to have a smooth sauce that is not grainy in texture.
Serve with plain Basmati rice or any long grain rice and "Ajad" (Thai cucumber salad/relish).