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Jonesing for Juice

When you're anchored in the middle of nowhere and short on a key ingredient, perseverance is the name of the game. "People and Food" from our May 2010 issue

July 1, 2010
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Fiesta Chicken
Fiesta Chicken Lynda Morris Childress

What do you do when you’re forced to decide between two of life’s finer pleasures, eating and drinking? Do you go for the glass of cold orange juice with breakfast, or do you use what you have left as a key ingredient in tonight’s dinner?

My husband, Jeff, and I found ourselves in this predicament one weekend aboard Outrider, our Westsail 42. We were anchored in a favorite spot at Santa Cruz Island, about 20 miles off Santa Barbara, California, and looking forward to breakfast in the cockpit accompanied by glasses of ice-cold orange juice. I’d already decided to make chicken for dinner that evening, a tasty dish that required orange juice, so life was good-until I opened the fridge. The carton of juice was almost empty! We were miles away from any grocery stores and had no neighbors to speak of, so we couldn’t even dinghy over and borrow a cup.

Being a resourceful cruiser, I tried to remember if I’d had the foresight to carry any extra aboard and, if so, where I’d stashed it. After searching the cupboards to no avail, I turned to the deep storage lockers, those secret little nooks and crannies beneath the floorboards where supplies get stored for later use-emergency rations, if you will-and are often forgotten. Sure enough, there it was: a carton of orange juice, stashed in its hiding spot behind a wooden beam. It’d somehow gone undetected when we’d cleaned up the boat after returning from a cruise to Mexico three months earlier. It was a little bit outdated, but good enough for cooking; Mexican juices tend to have a good, long shelf life.

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As we ate breakfast, we sipped glasses of cold orange juice while marveling at the beauty and tranquility of the anchorage. Life was once again good. All was well; a crisis had been averted.

That night, we enjoyed both a delicious Fiesta Chicken and another fabulous night at anchor. This tasty dish delivers exotic flavors, and it’s quite easy to make-that’s why I like it so much. In fact, I’m thinking of renaming it Siesta Chicken.

Fiesta Chicken

  • Olive oil or cooking spray
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pimientos or roasted red peppers, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano, snipped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco), to taste
  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken-breast halves, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, snipped
  • 1 cup hot, cooked rice

Lightly coat a large skillet with olive oil or cooking spray. Add tomato sauce, orange juice, onion, raisins, pimientos, oregano, chili powder, garlic, and hot pepper sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir chicken pieces into skillet; return to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes more or until chicken is tender and no longer pink.

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Meanwhile, stir together cold water and cornstarch until smooth. Stir slowly into mixture in skillet. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly and then for an additional 2 minutes. Toss parsley with rice. Serve chicken mixture over rice. Garnish with parsley or fresh oregano sprigs. Serves two.

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