Photo: Rene Comet / USA WEEKEND. Food styling by Lisa Cherkasky.
Stump the Cook
It's 6 p.m., hunger has taken over, everybody's cranky, and there are only odds and ends in the refrigerator. Enter Lynne Rossetto Kasper and her culinary supper game, Stump the Cook.
How It Works: You tell us five ingredients you have in your refrigerator, and Lynne has to come up with a dish you could make with them. In her dish, Lynne also gets to use salt, pepper, one type of fat and three additional ingredients the challenger also has on hand.
This Month's Player: Shalon Hastings is a restaurateur in Helena, Montana. She began cooking at age 6, when her parents made a cunning deal: They'd wash the dishes if the kids cooked. It can be hard to find unique cooking ingredients in Helena, so she brought back duck fat and fermented black beans from her travels.
Shalon's Challenge to Lynne: Duck fat + whole chicken + tamarind paste + fermented black beans + homemade fig jam.
Lynne's Idea: Sticky Garlic Tamarind Fig Jam Chicken (Lynne added garlic, cider vinegar and canned whole tomatoes).
The Path: Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
The braising liquid: In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of water with 3 tablespoons each of tamarind paste and cider vinegar. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of chopped fermented black beans, 1/2 cup fig jam and 1 cup whole peeled tomatoes, crushing them in your hands as you add them. Set aside.
The chicken: Cut the chicken into eight pieces and crack liberal amounts of black pepper over the pieces, rubbing the pepper in. Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons of duck fat in a large skillet with an oven-proof handle over medium heat. Once the duck fat has melted, add the chicken, skin side down, and slowly brown the pieces on one side, taking care not to rip the skin. Turn the chicken and add 10 whole cloves of peeled garlic, as well as 15 cloves that have been halved, to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and continue to brown the chicken, about 8 to 10 minutes more, taking care not to burn the garlic. Add the braising liquid to the pan, cover and place in oven. Cook until the chicken is falling off the bone and very tender, another 45 minutes to an hour.
To serve: Carefully move the chicken to a platter. Return the pan with the braising liquid to the stove and simmer over medium-high heat, stirring with a wood spatula to keep from scorching. Simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, then pour over the chicken. Serve with rice.
Shalon's Response: "What a great balance of tang from the tamarind with the umami of the fermented black beans. I am making it for our monthly culinary club, The Dishes."
This Stump the Cook was produced in collaboration with the newspaper magazine USA Weekend.