Thursday, November 15, 2007

Midweek Chicken Curry

By Tuesday, I was sick of eating lentil or celeriac soup so I decided to defrost some chicken thighs and chef up a batch of curry. I think this is, what, the second chicken curry recipe going up on TBCC? There will be more to come, I assure you...maybe this weekend. Anyhow, this one is cheap (duh) and pretty damn easy. I didn't really like it much the day I cooked it but when I came back to it the next day, the flavors had coalesced into something entirely different. The spicing is quite complex with a nice backbone of chili heat...really good stuff poured atop of some freshly steamed jasmine rice.

This recipe is adapted from Jean-Georges:Cooking at home with a Four-Star Chef. AFAIK, J-GV FTW IMO. Would I recommend this cookbook? Not really. As far as cheffy cookbooks go, the recipes are somewhat realistic for the homecook. However, the organization and recipe selection is just a little bit too random for it to be of any real use when I'm trying to figure out what to cook. Let me put it this way: I usually find something tasty when I pull it off the shelf to browse but hardly ever refer to it when looking for, say, a new chicken recipe. Having said that, the molten chocolate cake recipe is delicious, easy and J-GV is credited with starting the whole hot chocolate cake craze. It's a must bake for all you bachelors who are looking to impress that certain someone. If you are looking for a J-GV book, I recommend the HIGHLY underrated Simple to Spectacular. I'm also getting his new book on Asian cuisine in a few days so I'll let you know how it is.

Here we go.
The obligatory picture of today's ingredients:
Ignore the pomegranates and white wine in the background.

Peel and roughly chop two large shallots. Place in the bowl of a mini food processor. Add three rough chopped serrano or jalapeno chiles, a tablespoon of dried turmeric, a tablespoon of curry powder, a tablespoon of curry paste (I used what I had in the fridge which was green), two tablespoons of fish sauce and a tablespoon of sugar. Blend until a paste forms. You might have to scrape down the sides a few times.

Take three pounds of chicken pieces, I opted for delicious thighs, and rub with half the paste.

Refrigerate both the spice rubbed chicken and the other half of the spice paste overnight.
I should mention, you might want to de-skin the thighs. They just get sorta flaccid when they're braised and aren't really worth eating. Oops. Next time, I'll remember to do this.

The next day, remove the chicken from the fridge and set aside.

Slice one large onion. Set aside.

Take one stalk of lemongrass and trim the tip and base.

Remove a few of the dirty outer layers.
Smash the stalk with the flat of a knife.
Tie into a knot.
Repeat with two more stalks of lemongrass. Set aside.

Heat up a pot and add oil. Toss in the leftover spice paste, the sliced onion and lemongrass knots. Fry for a few minutes until the onion is slightly soft.
Add the marinated chicken, 4 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of water. Also add 1/2 cup of diced, canned tomatoes and a tablespoon of turmeric. Stir well. Bring the whole mess to a boil and lower the heat to a very gentle simmer. Cook for 1-1.5 hours. You want the chicken to be very, very tender.

When the chicken is at the oh-so-tender stage, pour in 1.5 cups of coconut milk. Stir and cook for another few minutes.
At this point, taste for seasoning. Adjust the salt with additional fish sauce. Perk up the whole dish with lime juice. Just squeeze, taste and repeat if necessary. I think I used approximately 3/4 of a lime.

Serve with LOTS of rice. Done.
I like to suck on the lemongrass knots.
Time- About 20 minutes of prep. 1.25 hours of cooking time.
Food cost-
Chicken- $3.00
Totals- $4.35
Serves 6-8 or 73 cents per serving.

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