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International Food & Wine Festival
September 30 - November 13, 2011
Friday, October 28, 2011
10 a.m. - noon
aka The Poor Chef
Charles' Grandmother's Plantain Twist
Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay
Curried Chicken and Goat Duo with Roti and Rice
Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone Domaine le Garrigon
Coconut Island Dessert
Adriano Ramos-Pinto, Port Superior Tawny
Review by John Bowers
Charles Mattocks, also known as The Poor Chef, was raised in the Kingston, Jamaica, area. His uncle is none other than Bob Marley! Charles is a single parent, and he said one day when he was watching a cooking show on television, his son wondered why there were no 'regular people' who were showing how to cook good food. Charles asked us for a show of hands to see how many have actually gone out and bought a live lobster just to make a sauce. No hands went up!
After pondering his son's question, Charles decided
he would write a book on how to cook economical,
healthy, 'regular' food. His book is called 'Eat Cheap But Well.' Charles was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and he has integrated diabetic-friendly recipes into his book and into his television shows.
An interesting story about how Charles was invited to host this event was told to my table by his publicist, who was with him. She said she called Disney to see if they would be interested in hosting Charles. She said she got through to Marianne Hunnel's voice mail. Marianne coordinates many, many events at the Food and Wine Festival. Marianne called right back and said she knew all about Charles and Disney would love to have him.
Joe Tracy was our wine host. Joe has hosted numerous events at the Food and Wine Festival, one of them recently was the Kitchen Memories a few weeks ago with John Stewart and Duskie Estes.
Charles started us off with his Grandmother's Plantain Twist. You slice a ripe plantain, which is quite similar to a banana, and lightly brown the slices in butter and sugar. The slices (very tasty and addictive, by the way!) are served with Granny's Porridge. Granny makes her porridge with cornmeal, milk, condensed milk, vanilla and cinnamon. Tastes like sweet, cinnamon-y grits (if you're a Southerner) or polenta (if you aren't).
Joe Tracy chose a 2010 Mer Soleil Silver Unoaked Chardonnay to pair with the Plantains and Porridge. Mer Soleil is an acclaimed winery in the Santa Lucia Highlands area of Monterey County, California, and this particular chardonnay was fermented in 50% stainless steel barrels and 50% concrete barrels. Yes, concrete. Joe said concrete imparts absolutely no flavors of its own. And the bottle is unique, too. It's a gray ceramic bottle. I believe he said the retail price was only about $20, so if you find a bottle, take it to a party, you'll be well-remembered.
Charles told us that Jamaicans use a lot of curry in their dishes. So much so that when Jamaicans talk of the joys of curry, someone will often shout 'YEAH, MON!' in reply. So he told us that every time he said the word 'curry' we were all to shout 'YEAH, MON!' It worked fairly well. Usually at least a couple of people would remember to shout it out.
Our main course was Curried (YEAH, MON!) Chicken and Goat Duo with Roti and Rice. You make a spicy sauce of garlic, Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, ginger, scallions, and yes, curry powder (YEAH, MON!). Marinate pieces of chicken and goat in it overnight, brown the meat, and serve it with white rice and roti. What's roti? Roti is a round bread that very much resembles flour tortillas, only roti is a little thicker. Roti is used to sop up the wonderful spicy sauce.
As we were all enjoying our Curried (YEAH, MON!) Chicken and Goat, Charles wished we had been given lots more of that savory sauce to eat with our roti. He was cooking his own big skillet of the dish, and he kept saying his was better than what the Disney chefs had served us. Finally it was too much, so we orchestrated an impromptu "go up to Charles' stage and get a little plate of HIS chicken and goat!"
Each table sent someone to get a serving, and it was quite a bit spicier than we had been first served. That was fun, although I think our hostess, Pam Smith, was a little nervous about the breach of decorum. But things like this are what make these events fun!
Joe chose a Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone Domaine le Garrigon red wine to pair with the main course. Red wines from the Cotes du Rhone are typically made mostly from grenache grapes. I believe Joe said this wine was 70% grenache and 30% carignane. An earthy, spicy wine, with that wonderful dark red fruit taste, it paired well with the spicy curry flavors of the main course. Yeah, mon!
Coconut Island Dessert rounded out the event. It's kind of cake-y, you make it in individual ramekins with eggs, milk, Bisquick, butter, sugar, coconut, and a chocolate "Charles Bar." What's a Charles Bar? It's Charles' very own sugar-free, diabetic-friendly, made-with-Belgian-chocolate candy bar. I was imagining a big scoop of vanilla ice cream to go with the dessert, too. Delicious, even without the ice cream.
Joe chose a port wine to serve with the dessert. The Ramos-Pinto Superior Tawny was fruity and not as heavy as some ports can be. It was a tasty complement to the coconut-and-chocolate-flavored dessert. Just watch out for that 18% alcohol!
Charles is charming and very humble. He mentioned numerous times how he is dedicating himself to helping diabetics eat well and love what they eat. He was grateful for the chance to come to the Food and Wine Festival and thanked us all very sincerely for helping him become successful in his endeavors. You could sense his sincerity, it was very nice.
4 very ripe plantains
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, more as needed
1. Peel plantains. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices.
2. Melt butter or margarine in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in about one-third of the
plantains until lightly browned on both sides, about 10 minutes. Remove plantains to a warm plate and
sprinkle lightly with salt and sugar. Keep warm.
3. Repeat with remaining plantains, adding more butter or margarine as needed.
Granny's Porridge (Jamaican Cornmeal Porridge):
4 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup fine yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk or soy milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk
1. Bring salted water to a boil.
2. Combine cornmeal and flour together in a bowl. Slowly add milk to make a smooth paste.
3. Stir cornmeal paste into boiling salted water. Cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
4. Stir in vanilla and cinnamon; cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and sweeten with condensed milk. Serve warm.
Curried Chicken and Goat:
2 tablespoons curry powder
2 diced onions
2 scallions (or spring onions)
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 hot peppers (ideally Scotch bonnet)
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
6 cloves minced garlic
2 sprigs fresh thyme
2 pounds (including bones) goat meat and chicken breast, cut into cubes
Butter, for frying meat
1/2 pound diced potato
1/2 pound diced carrots
1. Combine curry powder, onions, scallions, salt, pepper, peppers, ginger, garlic, thyme, and half a
cup of water in a blender. If necessary, add more water to make a paste.
2. Rub mixture into the cubes of meat, marinate in refrigerator overnight.
3. Melt butter in a large frying pan and gently brown the meat over medium heat.
4. Stir in potatoes, carrots, and marinade; add enough water to cover.
5. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to low and simmer until meat is tender, about 1 to
1 and 1/2 hours.
6 cups water
3 cups uncooked white rice
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Bring water to a boil over medium heat for cooking rice.
2. Add the rice, butter, and salt, and stir once. Cover pot and return water to a boil.
Turn heat to low and simmer until done.
3. White rice usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Check the rice at about 11 minutes.
With a spoon, gently stir to see if all the water is absorbed. The rule is simple:
You can tell the rice is ready when the water has been absorbed.
2 and 1/2 cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup warm water
Vegetable oil for cooking
Melted butter for serving
1. Stir together flour and water in a mixing bowl.
2. Slowly add water, stirring as you go, until dough starts to come together. Keep stirring,
adding a little more water if dough is still dry, until dough forms a ball.
3. Turn dough out onto counter and knead, adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky.
Dough should be soft, but not sticky enough to stick to your hands or the counter.
4. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.
5. Roll out the dough in a large circle, about 1/4" thickness. Spread about 1 teaspoon
vegetable oil over the surface of the dough. Roll dough up into a long roll.
6. Cut dough into 8 to 10 pieces. Roll each piece out flat into a 6-inch circle. Let circles
rest, covered with a damp cloth, for 5 minutes.
7. Heat a flat, heavy griddle or skillet (a cast-iron skillet or crepe pan works well) over
low to medium heat.
8. Roll the first circle of dough out as thin as possible (to about an 8- to 9-inch diameter
9. Add about 1 teaspoon oil to the skillet. Place dough in hot skillet. Cook until bread
puffs up and turns light brown on the skillet side. Slide the bread to the edge of the
pan and quickly flip it to brown the other side, about 1-2 minutes.
10. Remove from heat and place roti in a colander to cool. Cover roti with a damp towel
while you cook the rest of the dough. Add more oil to the skillet as needed.
11. Roti can be reheated just like tortillas in a low oven, wrapped in foil, or in the
microwave covered with a damp cloth. Brush roti with melted butter before serving, if
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups milk
1/2 cup Bisquick
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup coconut
Melted CHARLES BAR chocolate
1. Blend butter, eggs, milk, Bisquick, sugar, and vanilla for 1 minute.
2. Pour in a greased deep-dish pie pan or casserole dish.
3. Sprinkle the top with coconut.
4. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.
5. Drizzle generously with melted CHARLES BAR.