Tuesday, August 31, 2010

MMMMMMMMM Butter Chicken!

For those of you wondering, one of our elevators is now functioning, so life in our kitchen is more or less back to normal after a week of quick meals and take out. Today, I’ve got one of my very favourite recipes to share with you. I don’t make it a lot, but its something that is worthy of cravings, and this week I’m craving it something terrible.

At my house growing up we ate a pretty standard rural Ontario diet. A mixed British - Scottish and Irish background meant that meat and potatoes and at least one veggie were on my dinner plate almost every night, except for those occasions where we had spaghetti, lasagna, or a stirfry. Every Sunday, rain or shine, we had a roast of some sort, usually beef, but sometimes pork, or chicken.

Peterborough in those days didn’t offer a whole lot of ethnic food choices - you could order Chinese food, or Pizza. Those were your takeout options. So when I moved to Ottawa for school, I was intrigued by the plethora of different food choices that were right at my door, and I went to work, sometimes a little hesitantly, at expanding my palate.

Curry sounds exotic, and the sound of it can sometimes be intimidating for those of us who have never tried it before. But when you get right down to it, at its most basic level, its really just a stew. The elements that make it exotic are the flavourings and spices used to give it its robust taste. Now admittedly, I’m not a big fan of things super spicy, so I tend to stick to the milder varieties, but you could always throw in a bit more spice if you wanted. Curry doesn’t have to be spicy, and the recipe for the one below is mild. Super spicy curries do exist, I tried one by accident while we were China this past June. If you see Jon, ask him about it. The whole table was laughing at the expression on my face, and I’m pretty sure my eyes were watering! Note to self: the spice levels in Asia, are not the same as in Canada! That’s for sure!

This recipe is adapted from a cookbook called Eat, Shrink and Be Merry by Janet and Greta Podeleski. The recipe can be found on the Food Network website, here. Interestingly enough, the recipe that is listed in the cookbook is a bit different than this one, although they're called the same thing. I've sort of melded the two together and made my own changes as well.

To speed up the recipe a bit, I’ve opted not to marinate the chicken. This choice also cuts down on the spice factor. I also prefer to use all white meat, this is just a personal preference. There is no reason not to use what you’ve got on hand, or what you prefer. You could speed up the recipe even further by using a store bought rotisserie chicken. This option is actually probably more cost effective as well, as you don’t need to pay for the electricity to cook it, boneless skinless chicken is like gold these days, and if you purchase the whole chicken, you also have the bones for stock. (II’ll publish a posting on the virtues of using a whole chicken later this fall.)

You may note that this recipe doesn't in fact have curry in it and you may be wondering why I'm calling it a curry...we'll I guess it isn't, but I think it belongs in the same food family, and for that reason I lump it in with curries.

MMMMMM...Butter Chicken!
2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts roughly chopped, or 2 c. of left-over chicken
2 tbsp. butter
Colourfully beautiful spices!
1 c. chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. grated gingerroot
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground turmeric
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cumin
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 can (28 oz/798 mL) diced tomatoes, including juice
2 tbsp. brown sugar
Salt and Pepper to taste
2/3 c. sour cream (I used fat-free, use whatever you have in the fridge - plain yogourt would also work)
1/2 c. milk (I used skim)
1tbsp. peanut butter
1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro, or 1 tsp. dried
Hot cooked rice

Before you get started, a few notes on Ginger...
  • Keeping your ginger in the freezer allows it to be more easily grated. You don’t even need to peel it. It also allows you to keep some on hand without worrying about needing to use it before it goes bad.
  • If your ginger is fresh, you can easily peel it with a teaspoon. This will allow you to get around all of the knobs, and you won’t lose any of the flesh either.
  • You can purchase pre-peeled and minced ginger in the salad section of your grocery store. Garlic also comes like this. Some of you might be wrinkling your noses at the thought of using prepared items like this, but really there is no shame in it. Its a time saver, and your time is precious.
I sauteed my chicken with spices used in the rest of the dish.
1. Bake off, poach or saute the chicken breasts until cooked through. About 20 - 25 minutes. Dice and set aside. While the chicken is cooking you can make sauce. If you’re using long grain, or basmati rice, put it on to cook now.

2. In a large pot, over medium heat, melt the butter. Once the butter is melted and frothy, add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender. This will take about 5 minutes.

3. When the onions are translucent add the ginger, chili powder, turmeric, ground coriander, cinnamon and cumin. Cook for another minute.

Smells super yummy!
4. Add tomatoes, brown sugar, tomato pasted and salt and pepper. Turn the heat to it’s lowest setting and cover your pot. Let the mix simmer (not boil) for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you’re making instant rice, put it on to cook now.

5. Stir in sour cream, milk, pb and cilantro. Add cut-up chicken and mix well.

6. Cook just until chicken is hot. Serve over rice.

Yes, if you’re cooking for two, this recipe will make leftovers (it will easily feed about 5 adults). But there won’t be copious amounts, and they’re of the type that is glorious for lunch the next day. It’s a lot easier to eat a brown bag lunch, when its something delicious that you’re looking forward to eating.

Cheers and happy eating!


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