It was in my young manhood that I first encountered a dish called Ragoût. When I saw it on the menu I pronounced it “rag-OUT.” It shows how far I’ve come in my culinary knowledge. Whatever you call it, the French categorize it as well-seasoned meat and vegetables cooked in a thick sauce. In essence, a main-dish stew. Now, the Italians have their own thing, ragù, which is a class of Italian pasta sauces made with ground or minced meat, vegetables, and occasionally, tomatoes.
Today’s dish follows the French pattern, though it’s a Lebanese dish, Yakhnet Dajaj (Chicken Ragout in our vernacular.) For full disclosure, this is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Lebanese Delights by Raymonda Khoury Naaman. It’s a compendium that features the art of Lebanese cuisine in all its glory. The recipe is a ragout unlike any I’ve ever encountered. It has cinnamon as an ingredient, and it gives the dish a unique taste and flavor. Rice is normally served as the accompaniment to this dish.
1kg (2.2 lbs.) chicken breast (skinned and deboned)
3 tbsp. butter
½ kg (1.1 lbs.) tomatoes, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
3 cups water
1 kg (2.2 lbs.) potatoes
Salt, pepper and cinnamon as desired
Rinse and cut the chicken breast into medium cubes.
Peel and rinse the potatoes, then cut them into medium cubes
Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a frying pan. Add the chicken cubes, salt, pepper and cinnamon. Cook until the chicken cubes turn golden in color.
Sautee the potato cubes in 1 tbsp. of butter.
Place the fried chicken in a cooking pot, add the potato cubes, the sliced tomatoes, the tomato paste (dissolved in half a cup of cold water) and the remaining water. Boil until the chicken is done (about 25 minutes).
Serve hot with cooked rice.