A Taste of the Town: Comfort Kitchen
The Banner's weekly food column featuring local chefs!
Our original opening date was delayed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, so we’ve taken this extended timeline as an opportunity to refine our menu and to begin sharing our food and story through pop-ups and collaborations.
We are a Black, immigrant, and woman-owned business. Our food celebrates the flavors and ingredients of the African diaspora — global comfort food — connected globally through the spice trade. We believe that food is a vital aspect of community building and can’t wait to bring Comfort Kitchen to Uphams Corner, where we’ll celebrate the history, flavor and vibrant life of our neighborhood.
Until then, try your hand at Chef Kwais’s Jollof Rice recipe and check out our pop-ups around town!
— The Comfort Kitchen Team: Biplaw Rai, Nyacko Pearl Perry and Kwasi Kwaa
Chef Kwasi Kwaa’s Jollof Rice with Ginger Red Wine Braised Goat
Jollof Rice is a West African favorite and Ghanaian staple. The spices and scotch bonnets in the tomato base give it the kick we love.
The vibrant color comes from the tomato base, packed with spices, chilies and ginger. First, we give it time to slowly simmer before adding the rice in. And then we let that do its thing and soak up all those great flavors.
This version of Jollof rice with braised goat, is Kwasi’s interpretation of a dish he grew up eating and learning to cook from the women in his family. He’s served it at our Comfort Kitchen pop-ups and plans to make it a staple on the menu when we open our doors in Dorchester. Enjoy!
Serves: 3 to 4
• 1 large yellow onion, minced
• 1½ tsp. minced scotch bonnet peppers (for less heat, can be substituted with habanero chilis)
• 1 tsp. minced garlic
• 1½ tsp. minced ginger
• 1 tsp. tomato paste
• 4 large tomatoes (use canned tomatoes if preferred)
• 2 cups vegetable stock or water
• 1 Tbs. curry powder
• 1 Tbs. salt
• 2 cups rice (basmati or jasmine)
• 1 sprig basil (leaves and stems)
Sauté minced onions, garlic, chilis, and ginger. Let caramelize, but not too browned. Add tomato paste and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes, letting the tomato bloom out (cook out the acidity).
Deglaze as needed with water or vegetable stock. (Adding liquid to the hot pan is a process that helps break down the extra flavors and ingredients that tend to stick to the bottom of the pan as the acid in the tomato paste cooks out.)
Add tomato puree and let all ingredients stew together for about 15 minutes (the flavor gets better the longer it stews).
Taste and adjust seasoning as needed, then add basil and let simmer for a few minutes.
Remove basil, add rice and stir to coat the rice with the paste that’s developed. Add vegetable stock or water to submerge the rice. Bring rice to just simmer, then drop heat to low and cover.
CHEF’S TIP: The jollof rice will stick to the bottom of the pot. Don’t worry, it’s perfectly ok. The rice gets more time to evenly cook when this happens — the charred bottom helps insulate the rice and keeps it from overcooking.
Check rice periodically, stirring to make sure it’s cooking evenly (for best results, allow rice to steam until it sticks to the bottom of the pan). This process usually takes around 20 minutes but it will depend on the rice and amount of heat. (Traditionally, Jollof rice cooks like a paella and creates a crispy crust at the bottom that insulates the rice as it cooks and intensifies the flavors.)
GINGER BRAISED GOAT
• 3 lbs. goat meat, cut into 2½ – 3 oz. (or 4 – 5 inch) pieces
• 1 large onion, large dice
• 1 large carrot, large dice
• 3 pieces ginger (about 2 inches each), rough chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, smashed
• 1 scotch bonnet pepper (for less heat, can be substituted with habanero chili)
• ½ cup red wine
• 1 Tbs. tomato paste
• 1 quart chicken stock
• 1 bay leaf
• 6 sprigs of thyme
• Small bunch of parsley stems (optional)
• 1 tsp. curry powder
• Salt and black pepper
Season the goat generously with salt and pepper.
In a large oven-safe pot or dutch oven, brown meat at high heat for 3 – 5 minutes. Remove meat from pot and add carrot, onion, ginger and scotch bonnet.
Lightly sauté until onions are soft and translucent. Deglaze pot with red wine and let it reduce.
Add tomato paste and allow to bloom out, about 5 minutes.
Add thyme, bay leaf, and parsley stems (tied together if possible, makes it easier to remove at the end).
Add meat back in, nestled as close together as possible.
Add stock until meat is just submerged, and braise in the oven at 325°F for about 1½ hours or until tender. (Braising is the process of slow cooking in liquid.)
After meat is cooked, remove from braise liquid and remove bundle of herbs.
Let liquid cool and skim fat from top. Add cooled liquid and the vegetables to a blender or food processor and pulse/purée to create a smooth sauce.
Reheat the sauce and serve over goat and rice.
Popportunity Market: 84 Bishop Allen Drive, Central Square, Cambridge
Saturdays and Sundays, Noon – 6:00pm, through June 27
Little Dipper: 669A Centre Street, Jamaica Plain, Thursday – Sunday, 5:00pm – 8:00pm