Fragrant Pink Peppercorn Chicken Stew
Crimson-rose, the wee bright orbs twinkle in the mortar.
I bring the pestle down slowly, but firmly.
Instantly, my nose fills with a sharp, sweet fragrance. Spicy, musky, distinctive.
My mind wanders to a luxurious men’s fragrance I sniffed recently. Was that the note? It’s bold and beguiling.
I keep working the pestle. In no time the seeds ease into a paste, and I scrape off some of the nubly mixture with my fingertip.
The colour infuses such joy (allow me a gushy moment here), I want to embrace the mortar. It’s too heavy to pick up easily.
Back to reality.
Pink peppercorns, which are not real peppercorns at all, but rather a species of the flowering plant of the cashew family, are native to subtropical and tropical South America and also known as Brazilian pepper.
I bought my stash in May at the famous La Boqueria Market in Barcelona from a spice seller and travelled with them to Frankfurt, Venice, Prague and Amsterdam before bringing them to our kitchen in Cape Town (don’t tell customs!)
I’ve been using these pink peppercorns in stews, roasts and salads.
I find the flavours mingle so well in slow cooking and I used it generously in this stew with chicken.
*note, pink peppercorns may cause an allergic skin reaction in some sensitive folk. Test first before you use*
1/2 medium onion, sliced
2 T olive oil
800 g skinless free range chicken pieces
4 cloves garlic, chopped roughly
800 g vegetables (I used potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots)
700 ml chicken stock
125 ml water
1 T thyme leaves
2 T crushed pink peppercorns
1 cup French beans, or young green beans, chopped in half
salt, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, on almost the lowest rack.
In a large, oven proof pot, heat the oil and fry the onions on medium, till translucent.
Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels.
Add the chicken pieces and brown on each side.
Add the garlic and vegetables (apart from green beans) and toss.
Add the chicken stock.
Note, I made a chicken stock and after removing the bones, I blended the onions and carrot in with the stock, the result being a more opaque stock of thicker consistency.
If you like, add 1 T of flour to the onions before you add the chicken and this will give you a similar consistency
Add thyme leaves, peppercorns and salt.
Seal pot with heavy foil and make a gash in the centre with a sharp knife.
Place in oven and cook for 1 hour.
Remove, add green beans, water (if needed) and adjust seasoning.
Cook for a further 30 minutes. Cook covered for a thin stew and uncovered for a thicker stew.
Serve with crusty bread or as is in a deep bowls.