#22 Date selected: 24/3/16 Date completed: 26/3/16
Country selected: Sao Tome and Principe
Dining Selection: Cooked Own
What was on the menu:
- Cubed Chicken With Coffee Sauce
Thursday 24th March 2016, 12.49pm
When I first chose Sao Tome and Principe, I had no idea where it was. I would have through it might be somewhere in the Caribbean but it turns out that it’s an island nation in the Gulf of Guinea – just around the corner from Nigeria (my last challenge).
The country is made up of two islands and were settled by Portuagal during the 16th century. It was a vital commercial and trade centre for the Atlantic slave trade. Whilst Portugal officially abolished slavery in 1876, the practiced of forced paid labour continued on the island.
Sugar, coffee and cocoa flourish in the rich volcanic soil and the country’s close proximity to the equator. The 19th century saw extensive plantations (known as ‘rocas’) sprung up, owned by Potuguese companies or absentee landlords. In fact, so well suited were these crops, by 1908 Sao Tome had become the world’s largest producer of cocoa which remains the country’s most important crop.
The culture is a mix of African and Portuguese influences with staple foods including fish and other seafood, beans, maize and cooked banana. Tropical fruits feature heavily with pineapple and avocado forming significant components of many dishes. Hot spices is prominent in Sao Tomese cuisine and coffee is utilized in various dishes as a spice or seasoning.
Saturday 26th March 2016, 2.29pm
There really wasn’t too many recipes available online for Sao Tome and Principe. I settled on Cubed Chicken with Coffee Sauce in the end – partly because I wanted to make something that was representative of the country’s main crops, and partly because I found the idea of mixing coffee, white wine and chicken extremely odd.
Now I’ve used coffee before with meat but it’s usually been as part of a rub for red meat. I’ve never thought of using it in a sauce for chicken. If truth be told, I was expecting this one to turn out a bit gross but I was pleasantly surprised.
The flavour of this dish is difficult to describe. You can’t really taste the coffee at all – more the sweetness of the cream, butter and chilli with a bit of tartness filtering through with the white wine. I was it expecting the heat of the chilli to be much more discernible but I could barely feel it at all. The chicken is a complex mix of flavour and quite rich. I’m not sure I could eat a whole meal of this without having some kind of fresh vegetables or crispy salad to eat it with though I could see it going very well (served in smaller portions) as an interesting starter.
The cooking method for this is actually very easy. I was expecting the dish to have a lot more liquid than what I ended up with and so used a saucepan. I think using a large flat (perhaps cast iron) saucepan would have speeded up the process and would be worth considering for future use.
If you’re after something unexpected, this is the dish for you. Maybe not the best idea for insomniacs or people who have an adverse reaction to caffeine perhaps though…..
Onto the next challenge…..