thinking of my last post (Food Consciousness #3) i was reminded of how people pass away, but their memory remains. nearly every funeral i've attended, there is always some mention of how the loved one's cooking would be missed. i remember when at my cousin's funeral (died at age 27 from a motorcycle accident) his mother screaming how much she would miss his bbq. for christmas many years ago, i received a notebook with my mom's recipes that i specifically asked her to write out for me, so that when she died, i could cook her dishes and think of her. sounds morbid, but that is definitely part of my personality.
about a month before my uncle's passing, my dear friend PJ (his daughter) was taught a new chicken recipe by him. he was an avid eater and cook, and was always playing around with dishes. since his passing, we've had family get togethers where PJ has made this dish for everyone. it's a classic one pot dish, the kind that warms your soul, and if you'd have known Tito Long, you'd understand the kind of person he was by eating the food he cooked.
alot of time has passed, and the mourning and grieving has given way to fond memories and smiles. we talk about him everyday, and because he was so loved, it's like he isn't really gone. but whenever PJ makes this dish, and we sit to eat, she always mentions her dad. it's like this recipe was a gift he gave, by teaching her how to show her love for people through cooking. every taste brings a little tear and a smile, and everyone at the table quietly eats to remember something and someone good.
i cooked this dish today, and although i've thought of ways to improve the recipe, i decided not to mess with a good thing. it's the kind of dish that doesn't need wine or deglazing, or the caramelizing of onions; it's just good as it is. the following is an email sent by PJ not long after the funeral. if you decide to tweak it, at least try its original form. you won't be disappointed.
Hello All: Here's a recipe that Dad created and taught me last month.I had a chance to cook it for a couple of you -- it's pretty yummy.I'm going to make it tomorrow for my family. Buon appetito! Itadakimasu! Love you guys! PJ
Dad Long's Chicken w/ Tomato and Ginger
Chicken thighs or legs (8 pieces)
Tony Chachere's Cajun Spices
5-6 cloves of Garlic - crushed
1 medium Onion - diced
ginger - cut into thick slices (the greater the number, the better!)
3-4 small Tomatoes - sliced
Small can of Tomato Paste
1) Clean the chicken pieces and pat dry
2) Sprinkle the chicken pieces with Tony Chachere's Cajun Spices liberally
3) In a pot (e.g., dutch oven), combine the chicken, garlic, onion, ginger and tomatoes
4) Pour chicken broth into pot (but do not cover completely)
5) Sprinkle more of the Tony Chachere's Cajun Spices into the broth
6) Bring to a boil
7) Lower heat to a simmer and cover pot
8) Simmer for 45-60 minutes
9) Uncover and add tomato paste to thicken sauce
10) Cook for another 10 minutes
11) Serve with your choice of starch (rice, potato or pasta)