My Chef's Hat - Bay Leaf Braised Chicken with Chickpeas

I love chick peas, or garbanzo beans, as some people call them.  I’ve been eating them forever, as they are a part of many West Indian dishes and my parents are both from Trinidad.  Actually, in Indian cooking they’re often called channa.  They’ve got lots of fiber so they’re really filling.  They absorb whatever flavor you’re cooking with, especially if you cook them in a broth or curry or with some kind of meat.  They sell them canned in the grocery store, but the liquid in the can looks kind of gross. So I usually buy them dry because it’s a lot cheaper. Then you just soak them overnight, and then cook them. 

One of my favorite dishes to make is Bay Leaf Braised Chicken with Chick Peas.  I’ve been making this for a couple of years now, and it’s one of those dishes that I had found before Pinterest, and printed out the recipe.  And of course haven’t posted about.  I used to serve it with risotto, but risotto is pretty filling as well, so the calorie count went through the roof.  So now it has become a low-carb dinner for me.

Here is the official recipe photo

And here is my version

I love this dish.  It is full of delicious flavors, and is a substantial meal.  I’ve never understood exactly what bay leaf does, but I made this dish once without bay leaf because I didn’t have any, and it didn’t taste the same.  Had a lot less flavor.
The chicken gets so tender that it easily pulls off the bone.  I don’t know that chicken breast wouldn’t work well, because it gets so dry.  Even boneless thighs would probably dry out a lot quicker.  

The recipe calls for roasted red pepper at the end.  For the longest time I would buy it in the jar at the supermarket.  Very handy and convenient. But then I saw on a Food Network show about roasting your own peppers.  And it looked idiot easy.  I tried it a couple months ago, and yep, it’s idiot easy.  So that’s what I do now.  I save money, because I’m not buying the big jar.  I’m cutting down on waste, because I only make them when I need them and don’t throw part of a jar away.  And I know exactly what I’m getting; who knows what they’re adding to the jarred stuff to keep it “fresh”.  You just put the pepper over an open flame, let them get charred, put the pepper into a paper bag for about 15 minutes, then the char comes off super easy.  I usually leave a little of the char on there for more flavor.

I took a picture of the finished pepper, but it kind of looked like a live human heart...

There’s 2 risks with using dry beans, particularly cooking them in the pressure cooker.  When you cook them perfectly they have a little bite on the outside, but nice and creamy inside.  Undercook them, and there is no creaminess at all and they even taste kind of mealy.  Overcook them, and they are mushy and falling apart.  I’m not ashamed to admit I have made both mistakes several times.  The other day when I made this dish I undercooked them. I actually did that on purpose, since I was putting them into the broth to cook with the meat for about 15 minutes.  But I guess I really under-did it in the pressure cooker, because even once the dish was just about finished, the chick peas were still not even close to being done.  So I put them back into the pressure cooker for a few minutes.  It helped a little, but not enough.  But at that point I was starving so I just ate them anyways.  Oh, and since I put the broth in the pressure cooker it really intensified that flavor.  The color was a lot darker too.

Yes, I will definitely continue to make this dish.  As I’ve said previously, it’s one of my favorites.  And it’s super easy to make.  I think it would work well as a dinner party dish too.

Recipe found on Food & Wine