This dish surely tastes better than it photographs! For experienced photographers maybe it is the perfect dish, all colourful and glistening, but for me it was a nightmare to photograph. I changed the background, the light and my aperture settings a hundred times and still could not get a decent photo of the plate. The smell, though, was mesmerising! Maybe that's why I could not get the picture right, I was too eager to finish with all these nonsense and get down to the serious stuff: eat it!
Before I start describing Dorie Greenspan's masterpiece of a recipe, I have to confess that I was not supposed to eat this tasty melange of peppers and chicken. I have recently discovered that my skin issues might be caused by a few of my favourite foods. Foods that I eat almost everyday. Tomatoes, aubergines and peppers together with a few others (potatoes, tabacco, goji berries, gooseberries) belong to the nightshade family of plants. Nightshades... it sounds mystical, taken right out of the pages of a fairytale about wicked witches brewing deadly potions...It's scary but true. Nightshades contain alkaloids that can be harmful in heavy loads causing inflammation that in some people is manifested in joint pains and breaking skin. During my vacation I ate a lot of peppers, tomatoes and aubergines from my father's vegetable garden, I even brought home about 5kg to freeze for the winter!!! No wonder my skin looked like a bloody war zone!! After consulting my dermatologist I decided to go on a nightshade-free diet for 3 weeks to see if there is going to be any difference and to my surprise there was. My face started to heal and clean up after the third pepper and tomato-free day! But now I'm torn. How am I supposed to give up tomatoes and peppers? Especially when there are recipes like this one around that make you want to eat the whole pot! All week I thought hard and tried to devise ways to change the recipe to suit the imposed nightshade ban but there was no way I could I take the peppers out of the "piperade".
I gave up and gave in to temptation. I made no changes to the recipe and used my father's organic peppers and my mother's tomato sauce to make the most amazing smelling and tasting piperade. The wine, bay leaves and garlic gave it depth and a bit more gusto and all together flavoured the chicken beautifully. All in all it was the perfect recipe! An ode to peppers and nightshades....
I went a bit rogue on the rice...Actually a lot rogue since I used no rice to make it but cauliflower and parsley.