Music and Morsels – A Night in Ipanema

Music and food.  Two things that I love.  Two things that get me excited.  Two things that can make me feel passionate, happy, lonely, sad, joyful.  Just about any emotion under the sun can be invoked with the right (or wrong) choice of music.  But when it’s right…. ooooh, it’s so right. Music can fill my soul until it feels as if there’s no room left and the notes have no other choice than to come pouring from within.  I don’t just listen to music.  I feel it and experience the nuances in the compositions.  The good and the bad – I find value in all.  My other love, food, can touch the soul on so many levels as well.    The idea of combining the two into a single artistic experience was too good to resist and possibly sensory overload.

For my first week, I decided to start with what has long been one of my favorite collections of music.  A few weeks ago, while digging through dusty bins of vinyl, I came across a copy of Getz/Gilberto.  A classic collaboration recorded in March of 1963 by an American Jazz Tenor (Stan Getz), a young singer from Brazil (Joao Gilberto) and featured composer Antonio Carlos Jobim on piano.  What resulted was a sexy, smooth Bossa Nova jazz album that invoked images of smoky bars, seductive women and far-away lands.  The sultry saxophone (my favorite of all solo instruments) gives a warmth to the otherwise cool aesthetic of Bossa Nova.  Stan Getz’s lyricism, beautiful strained longing in sound and otherwise cool swing fits perfectly with the other musicians without overpowering the music or compositions.  The result is a well balanced and beautiful album and one that should be a part of every home library.

When I first placed the needle on the vinyl and listened to the notes that emerged, I was transported to a dark lounge, surrounded by hard working labors who had come to the club to take the edge off of their day.  They were smoking, drinking and laughing.  They were the hard-working people of Brazil.  I decided that if I was going to cook to this music, the food would need to be delicious, yet simple and inexpensive.  No fancy pastries or difficult ingredients.  I wanted to make Brazilian peasant food.

After doing some research, I learned about Galinhada – A very common paella-style dish popular throughout the country of Brazil.  I was unable to find a recipe that pleased me so I instead focused on message boards where Brazilians were describing this delicious and traditional food with all of the passion that you’d expect.  Unlike traditional Spanish Paella, Galinhada does not (in general) take it’s flavor from saffron.  Garlic and lime seemed to be the major contributors for this dish.  It also was not loaded with seafood but with the more modest chicken thighs.  Knowing this made creating my own recipe easy and the result was delicious.

The evening began with a Caipirinha – the citrus-packed sexy drink of Brazil.  Drinking this amazing cocktail while listening to the beautiful arrangements of the album made me long to be on the dance floor.  The drink also whet the appetite so that when the Galinhada was done, it was possible to enjoy every flavor with every bite.  A true sensory experience.

The drink and the food and the music all fit together beautifully and made us feel like we’d be transported to Rio.  For very little money and only slightly more effort, you can be there too.  If you go, let me know how it turns out.

Caipirinha

3/4 or 1 lime, cut into small wedges

1-2 oz.  of Cachaça

2 tsp. sugar (adjust to taste)

Cracked ice

Place lime wedges and sugar in a mortar and using a wood pestle, squash the limes with the sugar to release their juice.  Add Cachaça and ice.  Place in a shaker.  Shake and serve with your favorite sultry party snack.  Enjoy!

Makes 1 cocktail

Galinhada

6 chicken thighs – skin left on.  Yes, left on. Peasant food, remember?

3 garlic cloves, halved

Kosher or sea salt and pepper to taste

Juice of one lime

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

3 T. minced garlic

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 bunch parsley, chopped

4 cubes chicken bouillon (preferably Knorr)

3 cups long grain rice

2 quarts water

3 limes, juiced

1 bay leaf

Salt and pepper to taste

Rub each chicken thigh with half of a garlic clove.  After chicken has been rubbed, insert garlic clove under the skin of each thigh.  Season generously with salt and pepper and drizzle with lime juice.  Set aside.

In a large pan (I used a Paella pan) over medium high heat (I used the grill), heat vegetable oil.  Place chicken thighs in pan and cook until well caramelized and browned.  Remove and set aside.

In the same pan add onion and cook, stirring often until soft and starting to brown.  Add tomatoes and garlic and saute until garlic become fragrant.

Add parsley, bouillon, and rice and saute for just a moment.

Add water (the paella pan held slightly less than the 2 quarts), bay leaf, browned chicken thighs and additional lime juice.  Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice has absorbed liquid.

Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lime juice as desired

Serves 6

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