Sunday, August 12, 2007

Chicken Bamako - what's that you ask?

(photo from Food Network, Canada)
This photo, above, is about as close as I could find to my Chicken Bamako. This shows chicken drumsticks. I use boneless breasts or thighs. And the photo doesn't show all the jillions of herbs sticking to the chicken.

This is another one of those tried and true recipes I've been making since about 1970. Some friends, an older couple, served it one night. Ruth Cormack (now deceased) was a very good cook, and she inspired me to try any number of different food dishes when I was still a young bride. Believe it or not, this is a recipe that she acquired from one of her weight loss diets, likely a precursor to the all-protein diet. I have no idea where, so I can't give credit to anyone. I looked up the recipe on the internet and came up empty-handed. There is a place called Bamako in Africa (on the Niger River), but this kind of chicken combo doesn't sound African to me. So I really don't know its origin.

But nevertheless, it's very easy. Incredibly easy. Even my DH who is cooking these days, could make this. I'll have to remind him about this one, which he likes a lot. Very flavorful. You all know I like bacon already. You can vary the herbs you use - whatever suits your fancy, although the recipe calls out specific ones. If you don't like rosemary, leave it out. Put in what you like. But use lots of herbs. Lots and lots. I never seem to make enough of the dry herb mix, no matter how much I concoct, and always have to sprinkle out some more to go around. So, in other words, be generous with the herbs.

It can be thrown together in a big hurry. If you don't have time to marinate the chicken meat in the lemon juice, that's okay too. Marinate it as long as you can and add the lemon juice to the pan, dribbled over the chicken instead. If you are concerned about the fat and calories in bacon, use 2 pieces instead of 4 and cut the bacon into small squares and toothpick those pieces to the top of the chicken instead of using a half slice each. Or use turkey bacon instead. Usually I serve this with rice and a veg. If you marinate overnight, don't allow it to sit any longer than 24 hours or the chicken will start to become mushy.

Generally I use this vacuum box, pictured below, when I marinate - providing the meat is small enough to fit in the thing. It won't do a roast or tall things or a lot of pieces of anything, but it would do 6-10 boneless chicken pieces. You put the chicken pieces inside, place the lid on top, then pop that tall handle on top and pump the handle, which sucks all the air out of the box, thereby creating a vacuum. Supposedly this forces the marinade to be absorbed into the meat faster than otherwise. It's called a Vacu Multi Dish, made by VacuVin, and I bought it at Sur la Table some years ago when it was demonstrated in a cooking class. Allow it to sit in the refrigerator for an hour or so. If you don't have this box, just use a ziploc plastic bag.
Then you drain the chicken, dry it off with a paper towel and slick some olive oil (using your hands) over each piece, then dip and roll in the multitude of herbs. Mound the meat up a little bit and place on a foil or Silpat lined cookie sheet or baking pan and top with bacon. That's it. Ideally you should cook the thighs longer than the breasts, so to have them come out perfectly juicy, add the breasts later. Usually I use either breasts OR thighs, so I don't have to make those adjustments. Obviously thighs take the longer cooking time - the 30-35 minutes noted in the recipe. Happy herbing.

Chicken Bamako
Recipe from: Ruth Cormack
Servings: 6
4 each skinless boneless chicken breasts
4 each skinless chicken thighs
1/2 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
salt and pepper -- to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon bay leaves -- powdered
1/2 teaspoon sage
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
2 tablespoons parsley -- minced
4 slices bacon
1. Place the chicken pieces into a plastic bag and add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate a few hours, or at the most overnight. Drain well before continuing.
2. On a large piece of waxed paper combine the dry herbs. If time permits, combine the herbs in a mortar and pestle and grind them together to release their flavors a little. The measurements are estimates - you may need more.
3. Rub the chicken pieces with a little oil, then roll in the herbs and place a half slice of bacon on the top, securing it with a toothpick. Place the chicken pieces in a baking dish in one layer and bake in a 350 oven for 30-35 minutes, or until tender, but not dry.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 299 Calories; 10g Fat (32.3% calories from fat); 47g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 133mg Cholesterol; 210mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 6 1/2 Lean Meat; 0 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat.
To view a printable recipe, click on title at top.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is very flavorful and delicious. Thanks mom!!