Fierce Foodie: Think Pink Spring Stew
a blogumn by Roya Hamadani
Fresh mint and beets are two of my favorite spring foods besides petit fours. Beets combine a full bodied sweetness with the flavor of earth while mint has a clean, bright taste. Together with chicken they make a flavorful but light stew, perfect over rice.
While it takes some time to boil and peel them and then get the red stain off your hands so you don’t look like you murdered anybody, it’s worth it to use fresh beets complete with their greens because they are edible. Remove the ribs from the center of the leaves and chop them up into pieces about one and half inches wide. They will cook up nicely simmered for about 30 minutes in a covered pot with about an inch of water on the bottom. As the greens cook the water will turn red; drain it off before serving. The greens have a peppery taste that makes a great and healthy side dish for the stew.
Mint is an invasive species which takes over any garden and should only be planted in containers, a fact which I learned after my ex-girlfriend the so-called gardener planted three varieties behind my house and I spent the next two years pulling up their complex interwoven root system and another year recovering from an irrational hatred of mint. Yet for all its hardiness it is strangely expensive. In any case, use fresh mint, not dried. It is the bright taste of fresh mint that compliments the sweetness of the beets and cuts their earthy flavor. Do not use spearmint or peppermint; these varieties are better suited for tea or toothpaste or freshening up your feet.
Check out the recipe. I suggest serving this light and brightly colored stew over basmati rice and accompanied with the beet greens.
From The World of Jewish Cooking by Gil Marks
Cochin Chicken w/ Beets
1 (3-4 lb.) chicken, cut into 10-12 pieces
Chicken broth or water
4 medium beets (about 1 lb.) cooked, peeled, and sliced
3 cups (1.5 lbs.) peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
3-4 small green chilies (optional – omit if you prefer mild)
¼ -1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
Ground black pepper to taste
- Put the chicken in a large pot and add enough broth or water to just cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for one hour.
- Add the beets, tomatoes, and chilies and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the mint leaves and sugar and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice.