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Cuzcuz de Galinha
Molded chicken and vegetable cuzcuz (serves 8)


This Brazilian elaborate dish is traditionally prepared and steamed in a cuzcuzeiro (which looks like a colander on legs that is set in a pot with boiling water). This simplified recipe preserves all the flavor and looks of the original.

6 chicken breasts (with skin and bone)
1/4 c olive oil
1/2 c lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t coriander seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
1 c canned, diced tomatoes with juice
1/2 pound Portuguese-style chourigo or other smoked sausage
3 c white cornmeal
1 t salt
1 c water
1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, melted
1 c chicken broth
3/4 c cooked peas (fresh or frozen)
3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and sliced
3 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and sliced
1 10-oz can hearts of palm, drained and sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1/2 c black olives, pitted
Oranges, peeled and sliced crosswise (remove seeds)

Place chicken in a non-aluminum bowl. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, coriander seeds, and salt and pepper together and bring to boil in a small saucepan. Pour over chicken. Marinate, covered, in refrigerator for at least 6 hours or overnight. Bring chicken and marinade to a boil in a skillet over high heat. Add canned tomatoes and simmer, covered, for 30-40 minutes or until chicken is very tender. Cool. Strain cooking juices and reserve. Skin and bone chicken, remove meat and shred into strips. Reserve.

Slice sausage into thin rounds and fry in small frying pan until browned. Drain on paper towel; set aside.

Toast cornmeal in oven-proof skillet in preheated 3000 F oven for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown (watch carefully to prevent burning). Meanwhile, heat one cup water to boiling, add the 1 t salt. Remove skillet from oven and place over low heat on burner. Slowly pour water into cornmeal, stirring constantly until thick and smooth. Remove from heat and add melted butter. Gradually add reserved cooking juices, adding chicken broth if needed so that cornmeal is dry enough to form a spoonful-size ball, but not so dry that it crumbles. Mix in shredded chicken, sausage, and peas.

Lightly grease a 2-quart bowl. Place a tomato slice in center on bottom, then decoratively arrange egg slices, hearts of palm, olives, and remaining tomato slices across the rest of the bottom and up the sides of the bowl. Gently pack in cornmeal mixture, pressing firmly against sides to secure the decoration. Layer any remaining egg slices, tomato slices, hearts of palm or olives across the top.

Invert bowl on large serving plate. Garnish with sliced oranges. Serve immediately (serving tip: slice the molded cuzcuz with an oiled knife).

By Pamela Goyan Kittler, M.S. and Kathryn P. Sucher, Sc.D., R.D. from www.eatethnic.com.

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