The Fante Chicken of Nana Apt

Nana served Suzanne and I this dish in the spring of 2007, but it wasn’t until early summer that I could pry the recipe out of her. At the time she said it used to be a popular dish in Accra in the 70s, many of the hotels featured it, but now you never see it. “Why!” she asks. It is served alongside steamed white rice with small dishes of accompaniments; such has chopped hot peppers, green onions, groundnuts (peanuts), and fresh pineapple.

For Sarah’s “last supper” at our house, she requested this dish, and when we were back in the states over the summer I made it for my family, at the reunion. Fante Chicken has become, for us, a sort of celebration dinner to share with friends.

(Serves 10 people)

Ingredients:
2 lbs chicken pieces (chicken quarters cut up OK)
¼ cup fresh curry powder (Nana might use more)
8 oz coconut cream (or 2 coconuts – see Making Coconut Cream at the end)
3 purple eggplant about the size of a softball
3 large onions
4 green peppers
2 hot peppers
1 head garlic
6-8 Roma tomatoes
Oil
Butter
Salt & Pepper

1 to 2 pounds rice (depending on how much you like rice)

Accompaniments (to offer along side the main dish)
Chopped green onions (chopped)
Chopped roasted groundnuts (Peanuts )
Chopped fresh pineapple
Chopped hot peppers

Method:
Rinse chicken, and add one tablespoon of salt, ¼ cup curry, plus one thinly sliced onion and two green peppers. Stir until chicken is well coated and then set aside.

In a sauce pan, chop and combine 2 onions, 2 green peppers, 2 hot peppers, 3 purple eggplants, 6-8 Roma tomatoes and about 1 inch of water. Cook until all the vegetables are soft. Set aside to cool. Note: I often do this in the morning so that it has all day to cool.

Cook rice in a ratio of 2:1, meaning 2 parts water to 1 part rice.

Make coconut milk, if necessary (see recipe at end)

In a large heavy fry pan, preheat, then add equal parts of high quality oil and unsalted butter to make an 1/8 inch depth. Add chicken-curry mixture and cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the skin tightens up or curry begins to brown. Then drain the oil and set aside, chicken should be mostly cooked at this point, but still tough.

Take the now cooled soft vegetables and pulverize them in a blender until smooth. Then push this mixture through a sieve pour over the cooked chicken in the fry pan. The liquid should about cover the chicken.

Return to the fire, to finish cooking the chicken until tender.

Taste and correct spicing, adding salt, pepper, or curry powder, up until 10 minutes before serving.

To make a thicker, grander and more flavorful sauce, remove 1 cup of liquid and mix in 2 tablespoons unsalted groundnut paste (or natural peanut butter). Mix until smooth and then return to chicken and stir in. Cook at least 10 minutes after adding.

Right before serving, turn fire off, add coconut milk and stir in well. Cover and do not cook as it only takes a few minutes of cooking to lose the wonderful flavor of the fresh coconut. Let rest one minute before serving. I usually wait until everyone is seated before adding the coconut milk, and bringing it to the table; letting it rest while we pray.

Serve with plenty of steamed rice, and let each add their own accompaniments as to their likings.

Making fresh Coconut Cream
Often the packaged coconut milk is not available here in Accra, so I make my own. Drain two coconuts into a sauce pan and break open shells. Scoop out the meat, chop into chunks and add to coconut juice. Cook together for about five minutes over high heat and then set aside. When cool, use blender to pulverize. Then strain mixture and set aside for later.

If there is extra coconut milk, the most amazing smoothie can be made by adding ice, mango, and coconut milk. Its thick and oh so tasty! Coconut milk freezes well, but does not keep in the fridge for more than a few days.

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