Tag Archives: chicken

Chicken Tikka with Tomato

16 Aug

This recipe is straight-up not mine, but it has, over time, morphed into something that comes as close to anything as being my signature dish. I bring this dish to potlucks and birthday dinners, I make it for family events like last fall’s cider pressing, and once, at the request of the betrothed, I even brought it to a wedding. It has become a dish for which I am known, and there is a tiny little part of me that feels sort of bad about it. After all, I didn’t put in any work when it came to developing the recipe or testing it out to make sure that it was perfectly delicious. To make it I just crack open a book, gather things together, and use someone else’s wisdom to guide me. Other than a tiny little tweak concerning the switching of cardamom pods with ground cardamom, and the exclusion of clove that I insist on in every recipe that happens to call for clove (because if there is one spice by which I cannot abide, it is clove), this recipe is 100% Madhur Jaffrey’s.

With the simplest of preparations involving nothing more than whirling up a marinade, pouring it over some chicken, then waiting a few hours before grilling the chicken to a perfect finish, there is no simpler way to become acquainted with making Indian food. Make it enough, and people may even begin to request it from you. I take no credit for the recipe itself, but I may have to claim ownership of warning you of its charms.

There is something about the warmth of the spices—a bit of cinnamon, a hit of cumin, a good dose of cardamom—combined with the perfect bit of brightness, garlic, and onion, that makes this chicken really stand out. I know that might sound a little phony and desperate (really? Can someone feel that strongly about chicken?), but I swear it is true. If you’ve always wanted to take a stab at Indian cooking, but are at a loss over where to start, I suggest you make this dish (along with these super simple accompaniments) your inaugural entrance to the world in Indian cooking.

Last Year: Quick All Parmesan Crackers–gluten free!

Chicken Tikka with Tomato Recipe

From Foolproof Indian Cooking, by Madhur Jaffrey

For the marinade:

5 tablespoons olive oil

3 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

20 black peppercorns

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon tomato puree

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch strips

Put all of the ingredients for the marinade into a food processor or blender and process to a smooth paste.

Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl, add the marinade, and stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours. (I have been known to marinate this chicken for fewer than 4 hours and it turns out just fine—I have also left it to marinate overnight, for up to 12 hours, and it also turned out just fine.)

When the chicken is done marinating, preheat an outdoor grill or a grill pan over high heat. Grill the chicken pieces in a single layer, being careful not to crowd the grill surface. Discard any marinade that is left behind in the bowl. Grill the chicken for about 10 minutes total, or until the chicken pieces are cooked through, but still tender.

Serve immediately.

Smoked Spatchcocked Chicken

26 Jul

Sometimes I do not, in fact, do all of the cooking around here. Occasionally, when he is blessed with the time and inclination, my husband will tackle a dish, and I could not be more pleased to watch him do so. Because that is what I do: I watch. Or, if I am feeling unencumbered in other areas of my life and I don’t need to catch up on work or mundane house-related tasks, I sit and read. What I don’t do is intervene. My husband is not a frequent cook, but he is an enthusiastic one, and I would never want to rob him of that quality. If I hovered around him and poked at things while he toiled away in semi-unfamiliar territory, I am sure that the only thing I would accomplish would be the act of making him super nervous and more than a little annoyed. If he has a question for me I answer it, but that’s about the extent of my involvement.

It only seems fitting, then, that the story of this recipe be told purely in pictures. I had a great time snapping process shots of this dish, in no small part because I was not the one making the dish, so I never had to stop what I was doing, rinse off my hands, position the camera, take a shot, and then go back to cooking. I just did what I always do when I am not the person cooking: I watched. And when the chicken was done, I did my most favorite thing of all: I ate the meal and I enjoyed it immensely. With the smoky flavor of the tender, herb-scented chicken, lightly glazed with a garlicky and sweet sauce, it was certainly the easiest part of the entire process.

Last Year: No Bake Fresh Peach Pie

Other adventures in smoking things include this foray into making smoked salmon at home and this experiment making smoked ribs, Indian-style.

Smoked Spatchcocked Chicken Recipe

Adapted only slightly from BBQ25 by Adam Perry Lang

Two 3 ½-4 pound chickens, spatchcocked (butterflied), thighs and legs slashed. To spatchcock a whole chicken, cut out both the entire backbone and the breastbone, then splay the chicken out flat and trim off any excess fat and tissue. Here is a good video tutorial on how to do so, though for this recipe you won’t need to cut the entire chicken in half as is done at the end of the video.

Ingredients for Brine:

¼ cup sea salt

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

10 garlic cloves, crushed

3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves

2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried

2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried

6 cups cold water

2 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil

Ingredients for Baste/Glaze

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

5 garlic cloves, crushed

juice of 1 lemon

¼ cup honey

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon water

For Smoking:

2 cups of wood chips, soaked in cold water for 1 hour, then drained. We used apple wood chips, but alder wood or another mild wood would also work well.

Brine Chicken:

Combine all the brine ingredients in a large bowl or a large sealable plastic bag. Mix and crush the ingredients with your hands, directly or through the bag, squeezing them to release the maximum flavor. Transfer half the brine to another bowl or bag.

Put the chickens in the brine, transfer to the refrigerator, and brine for at least 3 hours, and up to 24 hours.

Smoking the Chickens:

Set up your grill for indirect grilling.  If you have a two burner gas grill, this will mean setting one burner on medium high heat and leaving the other burner off.  If you have a three burner gas grill, it will mean setting the two outermost burners on medium high heat and leaving the middle burner off.  If you have a charcoal grill, you will be raking your hot coals into two piles on opposite sides of the grill, leaving an empty space in between.  After preparing whichever grill you have, place a drip pan under the grates in the portion of the grill that is not lit or covered with hot coals. The temperature should be around 300 degrees.

Drain the chickens and dry with paper towels. Lightly rub the chickens all over with the canola oil.

Toss the pre-soaked wood chips onto hot coals (if using a charcoal grill), or, if using a gas grill, place wood chips in a smoker box made specifically for gas grills (such as this one), or wrap your wood chips in a tight pouch of aluminum foil with holes punched in the top (as demonstrated here), then place the box or pouch of wood chips under the grill grate, directly on top of a burner.

Put the chickens skin side up on the well-oiled preheated grill and cook, covered, for 45 minutes.

While the chicken cooks, combine all the baste/glaze ingredients in a small bowl.

Baste the chickens and continue to cook, covered, basting every 15 minutes, for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is done: the juices should run clear when a thigh is pierced, and the thickest part of the thigh should register 165 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer.

Transfer the chickens to a cutting board, skin side up, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before cutting each chicken into 6 pieces (from each chicken there will be 2 breasts, 2 thighs, and two drumsticks).

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

29 Jan

Keen observers may have noticed by this point that I tend to go on extended benders when I become interested in making particular types of food.  Over the summer I made more tarts and galettes than any rational human should consider consuming in the span of a mere 3 months, and not long after that I became enamored with all things related to Mexican food.  A short glance at the most recent archives will more than give away the fact that my heart currently resides on the continent of Asia, bringing us food from India, Japan, and undetermined (but it sure tasted good).

A couple of those recipes are courtesy of Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, a formerly-married couple from Canada (and now Canada and Thailand) who make their living traveling around (mostly through Asia) with their children and researching recipes.  They have written numerous cookbooks (including two books on baking and one book entirely about rice), and I can only imagine that, given their track record of producing incredible recipes and cooking techniques, time will only bring us more of their wonderful work.

This recipe for lemongrass chicken is taken from one of Duguid and Alford’s books with a focus on the cuisines of Southeast Asia, from Myanmar (Burma) to Vietnam.  As is often the case, I was reading this cookbook as I would read a non-cookbook, sitting down and flipping through it page by page, reading everything in detail before moving on.  My best friend once revealed to me that sometimes she liked to sit in bed and read a cookbook before falling asleep, as one might read a novel or a magazine, and I could not stop nodding my head in agreement (needless to say, there is a reason we are best friends).

The recipe originally calls for beef, but I, recent indiscretions aside, am not the biggest fan of beef, so I swapped it out from some chicken breasts.  Say what you want to about everyone’s favorite meat to belittle, but boneless, skinless chicken breasts really work well in this application, subtly sitting in the background so the lemongrass marinade can receive all the glory.  For a dish so simple, it is a huge winner in our household.  We eat it over steamed rice, over thin rice noodles sprinkled with herbs, or sometimes over a pile of fresh and snappy arugula.  I can’t say that I’ll ever possess the gumption to cook an everyday meal like Duguid and Alford are prone to doing (I recall an article in the New Yorker that detailed the couple making a casual meal of homemade crackers, hand-rolled noodles, and roasted wild boar), but with inspiration culled from time spent with many a cookbook, I am at least hoping that, little by little, I’ll be able to take these little bursts of global cooking and transform the bulk of them into regular staples on our table.  This recipe is a good place to start.

Grilled Lemongrass Chicken

From Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet, by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and minced

2 to 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

2 shallots, peeled and chopped

1 bird or Serrano chile, finely chopped

2 teaspoons Vietnamese or Thai fish sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon water

1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons roasted sesame seeds

To prepare the marinade, combine lemongrass, garlic, shallots, and chile in a mortar and pestle or a food processor and pound or blend to a paste (adding just a little water if necessary to make a paste).   Transfer the paste to a bowl, add the fish sauce, lime juice, and water and blend well.  Add sesame oil and stir well.  Set aside.

Cut the meat into very thin slices (less than 1/8-inch) against the grain (this is much easier if the meat is cold).  Duguid recommends you then cut the slices into 1 1/2 –inch lengths, but I kept our slices longer and was quite fond of them that way.  Place the meat in a shallow bowl, add the marinade, and mix well, making sure that the meat is well coated.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours.

Prepare a grill, grill pan, or broiler on medium high heat.  Sprinkle the meat with sesame seeds, then grill or broil until cooked through, about 2 minutes for the first side and 1 minute for the second side, depending on how hot your grill or broiler is and how fast the chicken is cooking through.

Serves 4 as part of a meal, more as an appetizer.

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