Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Arrivederci, Papa Francisco - Chicken with Yams, Bananas and Prunes

Sunday - Sorry for the out-of-order posts. The blog actually makes more sense this way, as much as anything I write makes sense. We will return to our regularly scheduled programming in a couple of days.   Maybe a few, or several. Stay tuned.

While I am writing this, Shepherd One, the airplane carrying the Holy Father, Pope Francis, is taxiing  for take off from the airport in Philadelphia on its return trip to Rome and Vatican City. Although there were many jokes to be made about "Pope TV" and "The Pope Channel", the concentrated media coverage was a welcome relief from the usual crap of hatred, mayhem, and politics.

I know, I know - the Pope's message was filled with politics, but his delivery was gentle and full of hopeful  prayer.  His airplane is in the air.  Safe trip, Papa Francisco.

FOX News switched back to U.S. politics so fast I bet the Pope hadn't had the time to rip open that little packet of pretzels.  I'm just not ready for that yet. The politics, not the pretzels.

Spoilers - if you haven't seen the series finale of CSI yet, keep scrolling.  Okay, so what if I haven't actually watched CSI for six years? I still loved it, loved the entire franchise, but eventually grew tired of it, as I have grown tired of the NCIS franchise and Bones and Castle. I am still a fan, and last night's finale had everything a true CSI fan wanted to see.  They got the band back together - at least as much of the band as most of us wanted to see (sorry, Morpheus) - and it was good. Best of all, Grissom was back. Although Robert was disappointed, it wasn't Lady Heather that old Gil sailed off with into the sunset - it was his ex-wife Sara, and it was corny but in a good way.

Monday - there is a Big Hole in the middle of my street, and there are several Really Big Trucks out there, trying to do something about the water bubbling up from under the road. So this part of Bryan Street is blocked off at both ends, and my driveway is completely blocked by a mechanical behemoth from the Toho Water Authority. My plans for a trip to Walmart are on hold, and all I can think is that it's a good thing I don't have to get to the office.

Like most Mondays, I am in a cranky, muttering-under-my-breath sort of mood, and even the prospect of all the cooking I have planned is not cheering me up. And I have a lot of cooking planned - I'm cooking ahead, some for the freezer, but more importantly, some to send over to Mom and Dad.

Last trip to BJs I picked up a package of chicken breasts - and these must have been some pretty big-bosomed chicken, because 10 breasts added up to almost 8 1/2 pounds - and figured I would do two dishes, but then I decided on three, so here is the first one, which I made up as I went along.  Welcome to my kitchen.

Chicken with Yams, Bananas, and Prunes

1 - 15 oz. can Bruce's Yams (Cut Sweet Potatoes in Syrup), drained, syrup reserved
1 banana, cut into chunks
8-10 whole prunes (dried plums)
2 tablespoons butter
light brown sugar
ground ginger
ground cardamom
kosher salt
black pepper
2 very large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into large cubes
Cajun seasoning blend, to taste (I used Emeril's)
olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup V-8 fusion peach mango juice
1 tablespoon creme de banana liquor
1/4 cup very cold water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Set the oven to broil.  Place the butter in a baking pan, and melt in the oven till very lightly browned. Watch carefully so butter doesn't burn. Remove from the oven and add the banan, prunes, and drained sweet potatoes. Sprinkle with the brown sugar, ginger, cardamom, salt, and pepper to taste. Place back under the broiler for just a few minutes to let the brown sugar melt. Remove from the oven and set aside.  Change the oven setting to bake at 350 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large deep skillet.  Season the chicken cubes with kosher salt, pepper, and the Cajun seasoning.  Add the chicken to the skillet and saute until the chicken is light brown on both sides.  Don't worry if it is not cooked all the way through, as it will be finished in the oven.  With a slotted spoon, remove the chicken to the baking pan with the fruit.

In the same skillet, add the onion and cook until it starts to brown around the edges.  Pour in the reserved syrup from the sweet potatoes and cook over medium high heat until it is reduced by not more than half.  Add the peach mango juice and the banana liquor and bring to a steady simmer.  Mix the water and cornstarch together and then add that to the simmering sauce.  Stir and continue to simmer until the sauce thickens.  Spoon the sauce and onions over the contents of the baking pan; cover with aluminum foil and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the chicken is done.

Serve with rice or orzo.

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