Me and cumin get along well. I love the way it smells, I love the way it tastes. If you could really form an opinion on the way a spice feels, I would probably love that as well. Cumin is, with very little question, my favorite spice. And my spice cabinet has seen it's fair share of spices. I love how smokey and deep it is. It is, in my humble opinion, the spice of mystery. Yes, that is right, if mystery had a spice essence, it would be cumin. Now go sniff you own bottle of cumin and tell me that I'm not on the nose with this one. A bottle of cumin is essentially extract of mystery.
Ok, maybe that's a little bit of a stretch. The takeaway there is that I love cumin. So, when I saw a recipe in this month's Bon Appetit that used 2 tablespoons of this extract of mystery, I got a little excited. As someone who usually doubles the amount of cumin called for in a recipe, even I thought 2 tablespoons might be just a little much, just a tad overpowering. I had to try it immediately. Even if it did call for 2 cans of chickpeas and to my knowledge, I have never eaten a chickpea in my life. You can't turn your back on a recipe that calls for 2 tablespoons of cumin.
So on Wednesday (also now known forevermore as the glorious day that my silverware drawer return to me, hallelujah!), I got out my island spice red Dutch oven and whipped this up. Well, not whipped, it took me a little longer than the 25 active minutes that BA suggests. But I really didn't mind; I had knives, a glass of wine and my entire kitchen smelled of toasted cumin. I was quite the happy camper. And then I sat down to dinner.
I love my chicken thighs) enough that you know it's there but not enough that it's the main component of the dish, something that those of us that indulged a bit while training for a week in Houston definitely need to be conscience about. The bread crumbs soak up the delicious broth that is more spicy than I anticipated, delicious beyond anything you may imagine and chock full of mystery. That's right, we're back to the cumin (full circle people!) Smoky, toasted, deep, glorious cumin. It's the foundation of the flavor and just oh, so, wonderful. If you are a cumin junkie like me, you have got to try this. Tomorrow, today, or if you are lucky enough to work from home, immediately, at this very moment, make it for lunch. I promise, it will not disappoint.
Obviously, this one is getting pasted into the big old green cookbook, unlike our more recent cheesy potato soup. If I were more blog-literate, I would figure out a cool way to document which ones have and have not made the cut. But I'm not. So for now, you'll just have to settle for a BGCB label. Guten Appetit!
Chickpea (and Cumin) Stew
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
3 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, drained
1/2 c. roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
2-3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice (I only had Meyer's on hand)
Country style bread, cubed
In dutch oven pan set over medium high heat, heat oil. Season chicken well on both sides with kosher salt. Add chicken to pot and cook for 8-10 minutes turning once until browned. Transfer to plate.
Reduce heat to low and let oil cool for a few minutes. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about one minute. Add cumin, tomato paste and pepper flakes and stir well with a wooden in spoon, until mixture is a smooth paste. Add 4 cups of water, chicken with any juice collected on the plate and bay leaves. Mix well, scraping up brown bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer mixture, uncovered about 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and tender. Stir occasionally.
Drain and thoroughly rinse chickpeas. Remove chicken from pot and transfer to plate again. Add chickpeas to stew and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, shred the chicken into bit sized chunks. Add chicken and red peppers to stew. Season stew by adding 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to start with. Simmer a minute, then adjust salt, lemon juice and/or olive oil to your tastes.
In serving bowls, place a handful of bread cubs. Spoon stew over top and serve with a slice of bread to soak up any stray juices. Enjoy!!