by Kate Heyhoe
Serves 6 to 8
You won't find this dish in Miami, at least not in one casserole, but all the elements show up in traditional Cuban meals: black beans, white rice, bell pepper, chicken, sausage—and sour orange juice. Don't stop reading just because you don't have sour orange juice on hand—pick up 3 or 4 fresh limes and a large orange, and you'll be in good shape. Sour oranges are a particular citrus fruit found in Florida and the Caribbean. Latin markets sell sour orange juice, but a 50-50 mixture of lime juice and orange juice replicates the flavor just fine.
Tips: This easy-to-fix casserole layers black beans, white rice, and a tart and tangy mixture of chicken, sausage, and onions together, topped off by a crunchy, golden cornmeal crust. It takes about an hour to marinate the chicken, and an hour to bake, but actual preparation is only about 30 minutes. You also need to prepare the rice, which can be done 2 or 3 days ahead and refrigerated (use 2 cups raw white rice to make 5 to 6 cups cooked; any basic cookbook explains how to steam rice). For convenience sake, I use canned black beans, but if you have homemade ones, be sure to use them with some of their cooking liquid instead.
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 pound boneless chicken breasts
3/4 cup sour orange juice (or equal parts orange and lime juice)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 pound lean smoked sausage or kielbasa (such as turkey)
1 onion, very thinly sliced
1 cup bell pepper, diced
5 to 6 cups cooked long grain white rice (use 2 cups raw rice) 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Prepare the marinade: Combine the oregano, cumin, black pepper, salt and garlic and mix to a paste using a handblender with chopping attachment, small food processor or mortar and pestle.
2. Marinate the chicken: Cut the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces, about 1/2 to 3/4-inch dice. Place into nonreactive bowl (such as glass). Using clean hands, rub the chicken pieces with the spice paste. Pour in the sour orange juice or orange-lime juice mixture. Marinate as much as overnight, or for as little as 1 hour (refrigerated).
3. When ready to prepare the casserole, heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 2-1/2 quart casserole or baking dish.
4. Cut the smoked sausage into rounds, about 1/4-inch wide, to resemble coins. In a large skillet, heat olive oil with the vegetable oil. Brown the sausage coins on both sides, about 3 to 4 minutes on medium high heat. Remove from pan and set aside.
5. Add onion slices, reduce heat to medium low and cook until soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.
6. When the onions are cooked through, turn the heat to high. Push the sausage-onion mixture to one side of the pan. Using a slotted spoon, add the marinated chicken to the empty side of the pan, reserving the marinade in the bowl. Stir and cook until chicken is almost cooked through, then stir together with the sausage-onion mixture. Add the remaining marinade. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 1 minute. Turn off the heat. The mixture should be moist, with liquid in the pan. Taste for seasonings, adding more salt and pepper as needed.
7. Spread the beans, with their liquid, in the bottom of the casserole. Top with the diced bell pepper. Spread the cooked rice evenly over the beans and bell pepper. Next, spread a layer of the chicken and sausage mixture, pouring the liquid evenly over the top.
8. Prepare the topping: Mix the cornmeal, water and salt together to form a grainy paste. Spread the cornmeal topping over the casserole (mixture will be slightly crumbly).
Note: At this point, you may cover and refrigerate the mixture until ready to bake. Bring to room temperature (allow 30 minutes unrefrigerated) before baking.
9. Cover and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes. To brown the topping, broil just until crisp, crunchy and golden. Spoon into bowls and serve with Green Olive Mojo.
Copyright © 1999, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created January 1999
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