The last few days I’ve been having serious cravings for Nicaraguan food. Carne asada, indio viejo, chancho con yucca…the list is endless. If I went back to live in Nicaragua I would definitely gorge on every food item in sight. And I would learn how to make my favourite dishes because I would have access to the right ingredients. No more substitutions!
But for now, I am happy to settle with what I can make with the ingredients found in Vancouver. For tonight’s meal I have made Mom-Style Chicken with Corn Flour Tortillas, Gallo Pinto and Salad.
I’m not exactly sure if the chicken I made is in fact a Nicaraguan specialty but it’s the way my Mom always cooked chicken when I was younger and I’ve tried to best of my ability to remember all the ingredients. Of course I probably should have called her to confirm the ingredients but I decided to take a risk.
For the chicken and marinade:
3 whole chicken legs
1/2 an onion, coarsely chopped
Yellow mustard, I didn’t measure but it was probably a tbsp and a bit
Worcestershire sauce, again I didn’t measure but was approx a tbsp
Salt to taste, I’m really bad at gauging the right amount of salt for food.
Fresh ground pepper
Juice of one orange. I used navel but if you can score naranja agria or sour orange, that would be best.
Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and add chicken pieces, making sure they’re all coated. Let it sit, covered, for a few hours. My Mom would always pan cook the chicken or when we lived in Nicaragua she would use a coal bbq. But because I don’t have a bbq and I’m not a big fan of the way meat turns out when I use my frying pans I chose to bake my chicken at about 400F for approx 40 minutes, flipping the chicken pieces every 10 minutes.
For the tortillas:
2 cups corn flour (Maseca)
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
I found this great video that helped me A LOT. Usually my tortilla shapes turn out looking like South America and pieces break and it’s a big mess. Not only that but I never know when to flip them. And without my Mom peering over my shoulder it makes the tortilla-making process even harder. I don’t have a tortilla press so I used the underside of a round cake pan.
For the Gallo Pinto:
Approx 1 cup white rice, rinsed
1/4 onion, coarsely chopped
1 can of black beans
Oil for cooking
Okay, this one is still a tough one for me. You would think that after several attempts I would have this one down pat but WOW do I ever know how to screw up a simple pan of gallo pinto. In an ideal world the rice would turn out perfectly fried, each grain separate from the rest, soft but firm. And upon adding the beans, a lovely mixture of colour would ensue. But instead I end up with mushy rice mixed with beans and no colour blending at all. So if anyone has tips on how to make a proper pot of gallo pinto, please share. To make the rice, first you have to fry the onions for a few minutes and then add the rice and continue to fry until toasted on medium-high heat. Next add enough water to cover the rice and once the water has come to a boil turn the heat to low and cover the pan with a lid. The rice is done when all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is somewhat dry-looking. In a larger frying pan, heat oil and add the beans and rice and fry together until well-blended.
For the salad:
Approx 1/3 head of cabbage, shredded
1 tomato, diced
Salt to taste
Simply toss all ingredients together and there’s your salad. If you have any limes kicking around feel free to squeeze some juice into the mix.
I like to eat my gallo pinto with sour cream and a dash of Tabasco sauce.