Try as I might, I couldn’t find a record of dishes the Maltese might have been preparing when St. Paul was shipwrecked on Malta 1,950 years ago.
While tracking Maltese cuisine down on the Internet in the runup to BXVI’s pilgrimage there this weekend, a picture did emerge of modern day
variations of dishes he might have enjoyed during his time on the picturesque Island.
One of the recipes that most captured my attention is a blend of chicken, wine, honey and parsley. These ingredients put me in mind of recipes I’ve come across over the years in books featuring Bible based cooking.
It’s easy to envision the Apostle Paul sharing this meal and the Gospel message with the Maltese people of his day.
Another recipe that seemed to echo the days of St. Paul is a fish soup called Aljotta. I just really love fish soups and this one seemed a nice and very easy to prepare.
Both are adapted from Internet sites.
Chicken with Wine and Honey Gravy
Ingredients: 1 4-pound chicken cut into 8 pieces; 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil; 1 cup dry red wine; 2 tablespoons honey; chopped fresh parsley
Directions: Rinse chicken and pat dry. Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken to the skillet. Cover and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes per side. Turn the chicken skin side up; continue to cook uncovered until cooked through, about 10 minutes longer. Set aside on a covered platter to keep warm.
Meanwhile, pour off the excess fat from the skillet. Add wine and honey. Simmer until reduced to 1/3 cup, stirring often for about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with parsley.
Maltese Fish Soup (Aljotta)
Ingredients: 1 lb firm white fish; 2 sweet onions chopped; 12 garlic cloves minced; 1 lb tomatoes, blanched, peeled and sliced; 1 tsp tomatoe paste; 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil; 5 peppercorns; marjoram and dry mint to taste; four cups of fish or vegetable stock; 1/2 cup rice.
Directions: cook the rice according to package directions and set aside. Saute the onion in olive oil until translucent; add garlic, herbs & tomato paste and cook for a few minutes until well blended. Add the tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Then, add the fist, cut into chunks and simmer for for about 10 minutes. Add rice to the pot and stir just before serving.