While hiking down a volcanic mountainside in the Ometepe islands, an ecological jewel in Nicaragua, I ran into a pig staring at me in the middle of the dirt road. It first smelled me and then walked towards me. I walked backwards, and it came forwards. I started running, and it started running after me. How odd it was. Locals, who saw me struggling with this pig, pulled it away from me. They also told me that women who got bitten by pigs became permanently infertile. They thought that the pig, which chased after me, was a male with erupting hormones. As a kid, I had been chased by my Mom and by dogs, but I’d never thought I would be chased by a pig in my life. That pig must have been quite a social animal. If I had refreshingly appealing aromas, I may have attracted a large enough number of pigs to feed a whole community in the Ometepe islands. Thinking of my “pig magnet” time in Nicaragua, I am making aromatic Nicaraguan citrus chicken with mint leaves in my California kitchen today.
First, I preheat some extra virgin olive oil and sauté 4 garlic cloves and 1 onion. Then I add 8 pieces of drumsticks to the pot and brown them. Next, I add 6 chopped roma tomatoes (about 2 cups) and juice of 2 oranges and 2 limes. Then, I add 2 cups of rice and 2 cups of water and bring it to boil. Subsequently, I season with 1 Tablespoon paprika, 1 Tablespoon sea salt and two dozen mint leaves. Then, I simmer with the cover until chicken and rice are cooked. Before serving, I accentuate the dish with some mint leaves and lime.
I am pairing it with a 2010 Sobone Estate Old Vine Zinfandel from Amador county in California. A blend of 97% Zinfandel and 3% Petit Syrah, this young wine was aged in old French and American oak until Fall of this year. This full-bodied dry red wine is jammy and has soft tannin like beaujolais nouveau. It is a wonderful choice for braised chicken and rice intensely flavored with citrus, mint and paprika. Good acidity and roundness of the wine makes it great to pair with the refreshing and tender Nicaraguan chicken dish, just like mint and lime softens the flavor of rum in mojito. Enjoy the recipe and wine pairing. Happy cooking.