While you're in wrapping mode tonight (be it for Christmas or Hanukkah), you can put together these quick parcels in no time. The recipe calls for one or two banana leaves, which are available at Grand Mart stores and Shoppers Food and Pharmacy. But parchment paper can be substituted.
The recipe's parcel method of cooking and its ingredients are representative of the Casamance region of southern Senegal, where the creator of this recipe, Pierre Thiam, is from.
Serve with couscous.
- 1 large lime
- 1 medium jalapeño pepper
- Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Pinch kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups low-fat coconut milk
- 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (preferably already thin-cut)
- 2 ripe plantains (may substitute 2 to 3 bananas)
- 1 to 2 large banana leaves, for wrapping the parcels (may substitute parchment paper)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Use a zester or Microplane grater to finely zest the lime, yielding at least 1 teaspoon. Place in a large mixing bowl, then squeeze the juice from the lime into the bowl (there should be at least 2 tablespoons).
Stem and seed the jalapeno pepper, then cut it thinly either crosswise or lengthwise; add to the bowl along with the nutmeg, salt, coconut milk and shredded coconut; mix well.
Trim and discard any excess fat from the chicken breasts. Cut the breast meat and chicken tenderloins, if any, horizontally into very thin slices (so that you have flat, thin and wide paillards of breast meat). Transfer them to the bowl as you work.
When all of the chicken has been cut, make sure it is evenly coated in the bowl, and let it sit for 5 minutes while you prep the plantains.
Discard the plantain peels, then cut the plantains (lengthwise or crosswise) into very thin slices.
Rinse and pat dry the banana leaf, then cut it into eight 6- to 8-inch squares. Use a second leaf if necessary. (If using parchment paper, cut into 8- to 10-inch squares. Line the banana leaves with a smaller piece of parchment paper, if desired.)
Place one-quarter of the plantain slices in the center of each banana leaf square, then place one-quarter of the coated chicken on top of them (you may need to cut some of the slices in half to even out the amount of meat among the parcels). Close the leaf, folding the ends over. Use kitchen twine to tie the parcels securely. Repeat to use all the chicken and plantains. (If using parchment, place the plantain and chicken slices on one side of each parchment square, then fold the other side over and crimp together the edges of the three open sides to form a packet.) Discard the remaining marinade mixture.
Place the packets on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. (You can test for doneness of the meat by opening one of the packets.)
Transfer the baking sheet to the stove top (off the heat); the sealed banana-leaf packets will keep warm for up to 15 minutes. Open onto a plate; serve warm.
Adapted from Thiam's "Yolele! Recipes From the Heart of Senegal" (Lake Isle Press, 2008).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
Email questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.