Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Jute Mallow Leaves and Chicken Stew

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Trio Jute Mallow

 Hello friends. I've been away for almost a whole month and I really missed this space with you. I believe I've discovered a new torture method: "Not allowing someone to sleep!". For those of you who have kids, please tell me if a baby can limit their sleep to about four hours a night regularly and still be happy and giggly!! Oh Geez! I am definitely certifiable as a zombie at this point. Regardless, November is quite a fun time for our family. Both my kids were born within a week (and 2 years) of each other and my husband W. preceeds my daughter by one day.

A year ago, days before my daughter was born, I jokingly told my mother-in-law, who graciously organized my husband's 40th birthday party: "I'm going to crash your party!". Well in a twisted turn of events, my Sophie decided to show up 12 days early, and I went into labor the day of the party. And while everyone celebrated my husband at the house, W. and I celebrated in the hospital room with our beautiful daughter.


Today it's a hectic life, two gorgeous and healthy toddlers and many projects in the works, I find myself having lunch at breakfast time. This stew was, in fact, my breakfast a couple of days ago. Yes, I know it might make you cringe, but it was delicious no matter the time of day.

Jute leaves make a flavorful stew in chicken or beef stock. We typically eat them in a stew with chicken, rice and a topping of finely chopped onions marinated in apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar. The leaves go by so many names including jew's mallow and mloukhiyyeh. You can find it at your local Asian market. This is an ancient plant, in the mint family, used as an herb by the ancient Greeks and other nations around the Mediterranean. It's also widely popular in India and China. So enough history, let's get to the recipe.

Oh, and one more thing. I want to extend my best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving to all of you. No matter what the origin of this holiday, it is now a time to be grateful for our families, health and abundance of life around us. Thank you for sharing your time with me.

Jute leaves are sold in bunches, like parsley or mint. To prepare for this stew, pick the leaves off the stems and roughly chop them. If they're chopped finely, they will become stringy, so stay with the rough chop. You will need about four bunches to make enough to serve four. They wilt like spinach. Set aside the chopped leaves. Finely dice the onion, jalapeno and garlic and saute in the pot with the tablespoons of olive oil. Finely chop the cilantro and add to the pot. Once all wilted, add the chicken stock and start adding the mallow leaves a handful at a time, alternating with the lemon juice until all the leaves are in. Stir them in the stock to submerge them. Add salt and pepper and the pulled chicken and let simmer for 10 minutes on low heat. Serve with steamed rice and vinegar-marinated onions with the vinegar (about 2 tablespoon per plate).

For the chicken stock, place all ingredients in the water, bring to a boil, cover and let simmer for 40 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool before working on the chicken.

Jute Mallow Leaves and Chicken Stew

300 oz jute mallow leaves (about 4 bunches)
1 cup cilantro, chopped (one bunch)
1/4 cup onion, diced (half an onion)
2 tbsp garlic, minced (7-10 cloves)
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 tbsp olive oil
1 jalapeno, diced
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup of pulled chicken or half a chicken (cooked)
2 tsp sea salt (adjust to taste)
1 tsp freshly ground pepper

Vinegar-marinated Onions

1 sweet onion, finely diced
1 cup apple cider vinegar (Bragg)
pinch of salt

Chicken Stock

1 half chicken (use a whole chicken if preferred)
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
5 cardamom pods
Generous pinch of salt




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