Friday, February 12, 2010

Cape Verde meets Ireland - Two Islands Unite

Tonight was International Night. Totally by accident, of course - I don't usually plan that well. I've talked about the Cape Verdean rice dish - Jagacita - in a previous post and once again, managed to make a splendid replication. I'm so proud... My daughters are 1/4 Cape Verdean from their father so I feel I owe it to them to just enrich their little complaining, teenage lives with some culture. Whether they like it or not. And just to round things out, I made some steamed cabbage to represent a 'wee bit o' the Irish' from their mom. The Irish are a simple folk: boil some water, throw in cabbage, put a lid on it til soft. Period. Pour me another pint, mate!

The Cape Verdeans, on the other hand, are a tad more complex. Peel, chop. Peel, chop - said the onion and garlic. Sizzle went the pan as the olive oil heated up - all together now - SAUTE! Lets do the carmelize dance and throw in some dark red paprika for color and flavor. Oops, did someone send Little Will out to pick some fresh Bay leaves? Go ahead, toss them too. Add some water, some lima beans and rice. Cover and relax for a bit. Or just go ahead and keep dancing. Dinner with a Cape Verdean is always a party!

So there you have it. And you're wondering if the cranky, demanding, volitile teenage girls willing ate this veritable 'island' feast? The surprising answer is YES. Of course they poked around trying to find the MEAT...and grumbling that they just can't get full from these crazy veggie dishes I insist on making. Interesting side note: they practically licked their plates clean and are in bed as I type this - sleepy from full tummies... Dontcha just love kids?

Now it's recipe time (the cabbage is pretty self explanatory so I won't insult you by explaining how to boil water or cut a cabbage in half!):

1 medium onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons Paprika
1/2 cup frozen lima beans
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil
3-4 Bay Leaves
1 1/2 cup Uncle Ben's Rice
3 cups hot water

Peel onion and garlic. Heat heavy pot on medium-high stove, add olive oil. Slice onion and chop garlic, add to hot oil and saute until soft. Add Paprika and Bay leaf, stir. Add hot water and lima beans. Bring to a boil, add rice and stir to prevent sticking. Cover with lid and turn heat down to low. Simmer 15-20 minutes until water is absorbed. Enjoy! (don't forget to remove Bay leaves before eating!)

Note: I use the same pot for everything and almost always double the recipe - this is a favorite dish in my house. The leftovers are wonderful! And while I've used other rice, this dish always turns out PERFECT for me when I use Uncle Ben's Rice. I don't plan to risk my rep with this recipe! Also, don't skimp on the Paprika - that and Bay leaf really make this dish. Many Cape Verdeans will use other beans (kidney, pinto, etc.) so feel free to experiment if you have a preference. There are many recipes available online for Jag, but they are essentially the same. Every family is just a touch different.

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