Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Xinxim de galinha is a relatively straightforward but marvelously delicious chicken stew - pieces of chicken are quickly browned, then cooked in a thick rich sauce until the chicken is tender. In xinxim, the sauce consists of ground dried shrimp and nuts combined with Bahia's ever-present, brilliant yellow palm oil, dendê.
Of the ingredients in the recipe, only dried shrimp and palm oil are not likely to be available in most any North American or European supermarket. In most metropolitan areas, these can be found, nonetheless, in Asian, African or Latin American markets that cater to immigrant communities. For dendê, look in African or Brazilian markets - in African markets it will be labelled "palm oil." It's bright orange color will identify it. Dried shrimp are used in many different cuisines, and should be obtainable in Chinese, Southeast Asian, Latin or African markets.
Xinxim is normally served with plain white rice, and some sort of hot chili-pepper sauce for those that prefer to add a bit of heat. A simple salad of a piece of lettuce topped by a few slices of tomato and onion is all the garnish that's required.
RECIPE - Xinxim de Galinha
3 fresh limes
3 Tbsp. salt
4 lbs (2 kgs) cut-up pieces of chicken, skinned
3 large onions
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup ground roasted cashews (can be ground in a food processor or spice grinder)
1/2 cup ground roasted peanuts (can be ground in a food processor or spice grinder)
1 cup peeled dried shrimp
1 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
2 cups water
1 Tbsp. extravirgin olive oil
1/2 cup dendê palm oil.
Squeeze the limes, to extract all their juice, but don't discard the skins. In a large bowl, combine the lime juice, 4 cups (1 liter) water, 1 tray ice cubes, the reserved lime skins, and 2 Tbsp salt. Add the chicken pieces and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain and dry the chicken pieces. Reserve.
In a blender or food processor combine the onions, the ground cashews and peanutes, the garlic, cilantro and parsley, the ginger, 1/2 cup of the shrimp and one cup of water. Process or blend until smooth.
In a deep, heavy pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat, and brown the chicken pieces, a few at a time, making sure not to overcrown the pan, and adding additional oil as required.
Return the browned chicken to the pot, add the blended sauce ingredients, one more cup of water, and the other 1/2 cup of dried shrimp. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Cook for about 20 - 30 minutes, stirring from time to time to make sure the sauce doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and burn, or until the chicken pieces are tender. Add the dendê oil, heat for another minute or so, then remove from heat.