Sunday, March 14, 2010


This has been a very healthy winter for me. Until yesterday when I woke up with a headache and fever. I'm one of those people who feeds a cold and feeds a fever. I never starve anything. I wasn't sick enough to lay around in bed, well- I did do my fair share of that. Anyway, while huddled under the electric blanket I perused one of my cooking files for something that sounded tasty, but didn't take much effort to make. My victims- 2 chicken breast halves. I didn't want soup and decided on a recipe from an old issue of Cooking Light called Ivory Coast Chicken.

I pride myself on knowing geography (for years I carried a miniature world map in my purse so I could keep abreast of current events) but for the life of me I couldn't remember where the Ivory Coast was. So I did some research. If you're interested, Cote d'Ivoire is on the south coast of the western bulge of Africa nestled between Ghana and Liberia. And it's the world's leading producer of cocoa (yum). It's inhabited by the Baoule people who cook Kedjenou, the authentic name for Ivory Coast Chicken. A few more facts...Kedjenou means "to shake", because during the cooking process you're supposed to shake your clay pot every ten minutes or so, to prevent the chicken from sticking to the bottom. Well, there's no shaking of the pot in my version, but after reading numerous recipes for this dish, I discovered there are quite a few variations that incorporate eggplant, okra and peanuts. I had none of those ingredients anyway and proceeded along the standard route ala Cooking Light, although I added my own twist and I changed the proportions since I was using 2 pieces of chicken, not eight.

adapted from Cooking Light

2 chicken breast halves, skinned
1 cup onion diced
1 cup green pepper diced (my addition)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14.5 oz can water
2 inches of fresh ginger grated
1 hot pepper chopped (I used 2 Serrano chiles and didn't take the seeds out. It was ideal for me, but most people I know would probably be happy with just one pepper)
3 1/2 tsp garlic chopped (about 3 large cloves)
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper

Combine all ingredient in a large pot. Cover and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook one hour until chicken is done. Discard the bay leaf and serve. This dish is traditionally served with white rice, but when mine was done I shredded the chicken and added 3 cups of cooked whole wheat orzo directly to the pot.

The orzo soaked up the flavorful broth and it was comfort food at its best. I will most definately make Kedjenou again. When I was reheating it today for lunch I added a handful of raisins and they were a welcome addition. Next time I'll add them at the start, along with a small amount of white wine.

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