Monday, January 8, 2018

FROM THE DINER: APRICOT CHICKEN CURRY

   One of the most remarkable things about American cooking is the practice of making nutritionally complete meals at one sitting. Casseroles, salads, stews, and other suppers are all easily made and usually contain meat, vegetables, fats, and carbohydrates at one time. 

    During the late 19th Century, immigrants from Italy on one coast and East Asia on the other brought in the use of pastas and rice, respectively. Tonight's special for kitchen-skillful guys is just such a dinner. Usually this dish is served over rice, but isn't bad over hot, buttered egg-noodles either. 


      Apricot-Chicken Curry uses a unique combination of East Asian and American ingredients that gives it a sort of 'home-cooked' taste. The recipe was developed by the H.J. Heinz Company test kitchens; I think during the 1970s before Indian restaurants made curries popular. To purists, it's probably not a 'true curry'; but to a hungry, healthy, hard-working man there will be few complaints during the meal and a clean plate afterwards.

         1 tbsp. butter
        1/4 c. chopped onion
        1/2 c. chopped green bell pepper 
           1 2-oz. jar of pimientos 
            2 tsps. curry powder (can be mild or hot, depending on taste)
            1 tsp. dried thyme
           1/2 tsp. salt
            1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
            1 lb. cooked diced chicken
            1/4 c. apple juice
            1 tbsp. cider vinegar
            2 minced garlic cloves
            1/2 c. tomato catsup
            1/2 c. coconut milk
             1/3 c. chopped dried apricots
            3 tbsps. chopped onion greens

         Saute onion, pepper, and pimiento in butter; then stir in the curry, salt, thyme, and black pepper. Add the chicken and stir to coat well. Add the juice, vinegar, and garlic. When heated, stir in the catsup, coconut milk, and apricots. When the apricots are tender, remove from stove and serve over rice or noodles. Sprinkle onion greens over the top. 

          Heinz was the first manufacturer of tomato catsup, introducing it in 1875. The company originally had an anchor logo from the Biblical symbol for Hope. Tomato catsup caught on as a near staple and built Heinz' company. Originally, catsups were used as flavorings for gravies, sauces, etc. and not as a stand-alone condiment. This recipe is something of a throwback to that usage. 

         Today we think of catsup as tomato-based; but there used to be catsups made of cucumber, celery, mushrooms, walnuts, lemon, plums and apples---just to name a few. Some of the first big customers for Heinz' new product were shipping companies. Tomatoes are rich in Vitamin C and help prevent Scurvy. 

        We don't have to worry much about Scurvy these days; but today's recipe is nutritionally balanced and good-tasting too.   

        

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