Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

Were you as transfixed with the Chilean miner rescue as I was? I stayed up late last Tuesday to watch the first two emerge from below and stayed up late again the next night to watch the last rescuer come up safely. While the miners were being rescued on Wednesday, I kept the TV in my office on mute and occasionally caught one of them being welcomed home. It never got old.

The welcomes were tear-jerking. I can’t imagine what it must feel like to finally hug your husband (or brother, father, son) after thinking you lost them forever, then finding out they were alive and waiting and praying the rescue would succeed. One day they leave for work; 70 days later they finally come home.

I see lessons in everything and as I watched the live coverage, a few kept popping up:

  • Put your ego aside and ask for help when you need it. This is hard for me too — oldest child syndrome perhaps. The Chilean government appealed for help and received it, unlike Russia who refused help when its nuclear submarine Kursk sank in 2000 and all aboard were lost.
  • Transparency is best. Share what you’re doing with the world. Open source your problems. Be honest when communicating.
  • People and relationships first; other stuff on your agenda can wait. The Chilean president (and sometimes his wife) were there to welcome each of the miners when they reached the surface. A big bear hug, a real smile. Since my TV was on mute I could only read their faces; their reactions looked authentic — happy and loving.
  • Screw your image, be real. The first couple looked a bit ragged as the rescue went on, but I don’t think they, or anyone watching, cared. I admired their loyalty to these men.
  • But, a little image enhancement is okay for the right reasons. I expected to see exhausted, sickly, unshaven and unkempt men emerge from the capsule, but they were just the opposite. Some looked ready to go out for the night once they changed out of their overalls. What a lovely surprise for their families.
  • Under promise and over deliver. The miners will be out by Christmas, we were told. When they got out before Halloween, you look like a hero.
  • Communities are critical. “We built a society,” one of the miners said. They worked together under their respected shift-leader to build an underground community that kept them mentally and physically healthy.
  • We love stories about people and their transformation. I found myself wanting to know more about these men. What did he do underground? How did he sleep? How did his health change? What went through his mind? How did his family cope? Who are those people waiting for him?
  • Don’t scorn optimism; it works. We are more motivated when hopeful. We will persevere when our spirits are up.

The night after the rescue I celebrated by making a Chilean-style meal. I searched for recipes that wouldn’t require too much time or effort to prepare since this was a late afternoon decision.  The ingredient list for this chicken recipe struck me as a bit odd at first. Honey, Worcestershire and tomato paste? Hmm. It smelled strong in the pan but as it simmered and the flavors melded, it turned into a really delicious sauce.

The rice was also easy and really flavorful. I adapted both recipes based on my taste and what I had available. The original recipe called for the chicken to be baked longer. However, the chicken was tougher than I liked so I decreased the cooking time here.

The chicken surprised me. I thought this was going to be an experiment that didn’t turn out all that well, even warned Jim, but we both agreed, it was delicious. We started with a good green salad and accompanied our meal with a Chilean Cabernet Sauvignon. Salud!

Chilean Chicken

  • 2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ green pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ cup honey
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ½ tsp rosemary
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Tabasco
  • ½ tsp dry mustard
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth

Preheat oven to 350. Brown the chicken in olive oil and place it in a baking dish.

In a saucepan, combine all the other ingredients except the chicken broth. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth and simmer another 5 minutes. Pour the mixture over the chicken, cover and bake for 15 minutes. Remove lid, bake for another 15 minutes. Serve with Chilean Rice.

Adapted from Chilean Recipes, Chilean Chicken

Chilean Rice

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup diced bell peppers, red and green
  • ¼ cup diced carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro

Saute onion, bell pepper and carrot in olive oil until they’re starting to get soft. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

Add the rice and cook another minute, allowing rice to get thoroughly coated with oil. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer per package instructions on low heat, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.

Fluff rice with a fork and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Adapted from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures, Chilean Rice

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