Thursday, January 27, 2011

Easy Indian Chicken Khadai


I've expanded my repertoire of culinary adventures. About 5 weeks ago, I began making baby food. Things started out splendidly. My little eclair gobbled up my homemade carrots, squash and sweet potatoes. Green beans and peas caused a bit of a setback but then we got back on track with apples. But now I'm depressed. She's got a new favorite food: peaches. Given the time of year, I couldn't get fresh peaches to make homemade, so I had to buy them pre-made. And now she likes them so much she doesn't want to eat anything else. She doesn't just zip her lips for the other stuff, she blows it off the spoon. I can't help but laugh at her little lips pursed in an "O" blowing squash all over me. But now I've got a freezer full of bags of perfect little cubes of organic fruits and vegetables and she wants the store-bought stuff. Go figure! This too shall pass (and who could resist this face, even when it's covered in peas, squash or oatmeal).


But enough about my adventures in baby food land. This next recipe isn't for the little ones, unless they like a spicy kick. The ingredients are all common, with the possible exception of garam masala, but even that can be found in the Indian section of many markets and Williams-Sonoma makes a version now too. It's an easy intro to making Indian food at home and you can adjust the heat level to suit your taste. One thing to note, don't use fat free yogurt, it just doesn't work.

Serve with naan and steamed basmati rice.

Chicken Kadhai
adapted from From Curries to Kebabs: Recipes from the Indian Spice Trail by Madhur Jaffrey

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 to 1 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
2 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
6 Tbsp. plain yogurt (not fat free)
3/4 cup finely chopped tomato

For the final flavoring
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, cut into very fine shreds
7 to 8 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
2 to 3 fresh hot green chilies, finely chopped
2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 cup finely chopped tomato

Pour the oil into a well-seasoned pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the onion, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes, or until golden brown. Add the salt, cayenne and turmeric. Stir once or twice, then put in the chicken. Fry, stirring at the same time, until the chicken pieces turn opaque on the outside. Add the yogurt and tomato. Cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes until the yogurt disappears. Cover and cook over medium heat until the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes for dark meat and 6 for light. Stir in all the ingredients for the final flavoring, cover, reduce the heat as low as possible and cook for about 5 minutes.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Coq au vin


Strangely, I'd never had Coq au vin until last winter. I almost never order chicken out because I make it quite often at home, but we were in Vermont at a little French restaurant called Mistral's. They were offering a 3-course dinner special and one of the entrees was Coq au vin. It could also have been called bacon-flavored chicken - and it was yummy. The chicken was meltingly tender and they managed to get the skin crispy before serving it. I thought of the dish last weekend and decided to make it at home.

My go-to resource for French bistro food is the Balthazar cookbook and a quick look revealed a great recipe for coq au vin. The original calls for hen legs - I just used a whole cut up chicken. I halved the breasts before browning them and it was perfect for two meals for the two of us. I served it over polenta.

Next on my list of must-try French bistro food: Cassoulet. Never had it or made it but I think I'll give it a whirl. If you've made it, leave me a comment with your experience or share your favorite French food to make at home!


Coq au vin
adapted from the Balthazar cookbook

1 whole chicken, cut up, breasts cut in half
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 large carrot, cut into 1/2-inch dice
2 celery stalks, cut into large chunks
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
1 bottle red wine
1 bouquet garni (8 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 bay leaf wrapped in cheesecloth and tied)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups Veal Stock or beef stock
1 pint pearl onions, peeled
1/2 pound smoked slab bacon, diced
1 pound small white mushrooms
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


In a large bowl, combine the chicken, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, wine and bouquet garni. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.

Strain the chicken and the vegetables from the marinade, reserving the liquid and separating the poultry and vegetables. Season the legs with salt and pepper.

Cook the bacon in a large casserole or Dutch oven. Remove with a slotted spoon. Set aside, reserving fat in pan.

While bacon fat is still hot, add the chicken, in batches if necessary, being sure not to crowd the pan. Brown evenly and deeply on all sides, about 8 minutes per side. Set the finished pieces to the side. Drain the bacon fat, reserving 2 Tbsp.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the same pan, add the chicken and the reserved vegetables to the pot. Cook until they soften and begin to brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes, then add the flour, stirring again for about 2 minutes. Add the reserved wine marinade and, as it bubbles up, use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot and incorporate any flavourful bits into the broth. Simmer until the liquid has reduced by half, about 20 to 25 minutes, then add the stock. As it reaches the boil, reduce the heat to low and maintain a slow and gentle simmer for 1 hour, at which point the meat should be very tender.

Meanwhile, prepare the rest of the ingredients: blanch the pearl onions in boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes, until tender. Drain and set aside. Heat the reserved bacon fat in a skillet. Add the mushrooms to the pan and  cook until brown, about 5 minutes, then remove with a slotted spoon. Add the blanched pearl onions to the pan, sauteing until they too are brown, about 5 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the braising liquid and strain the contents of the pot, reserving the liquid and discarding the vegetables (I kept the carrots, they were delish). Bring to a strong simmer and skim the surface of the sauce as it bubbles, removing any visible fat. When the sauce has reduced by half, return the chicken to the pot along with the bacon, onions and mushrooms and simmer for an additional 15 minutes. Just prior to serving, add the chopped parsley.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Moroccan short rib tagine with butternut squash and carrots


I'm a spice junkie. It's an addiction really. So I'm pretty psyched about the growing number of sources for high quality spices. I've used Penzey's for years and now Williams-Sonoma has introduced a line of spices and blends including some harder to find varieties like Ras el Hanout and porcini sea salt (yum!). But the icing on the cake is a new spice shop right in the next town called Savory Spice Shop. They have lots of blends and such but they have an irresistible selection of stuff I haven't seen elsewhere. Fennel pollen! Rose water! I went in for a couple of Christmas gifts and spent, well, a lot on stuff for myself!

I'll be trying out my new stuff soon. The recipe below is another tagine - easy, full of flavor and great for a cold winter night. It made anough for 2 meals for Jeff and me. This one features Ras el Hanout, a Moroccan spice blend. Savory carries it, but I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma (also where I found the original recipe). Tender short ribs, butternut squash and a punch of Moroccan flavor make this simple tagine absolutley spectacular. Serve it with a side of couscous.

DSC_0094 DSC_0085

Moroccan Short Rib Tagine with Butternut Squash and Carrots
adapted from
  • 3 Tbs. ras el hanout
  • 1 Tbs. sweet paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 3 lb. short ribs, cut into serving pieces, external fat trimmed to 1/4 inch
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine, such as Syrah
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup beef broth, plus more, as needed
In a small bowl, stir together the ras el hanout, paprika, the 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Rub the mixture over the short ribs, coating them evenly. Let stand at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes or refrigerate for 2-4 hours.

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Heat a large, heavy fry pan over medium heat. Pour in the olive oil and heat until the surface shimmers. Add the short ribs and brown on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Pour off all but 2 Tbs. of the fat in the pan. Add the onion, carrots, squash and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the onion begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the wine, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Add the tomatoes and the 1/2 cup stock.

Transfer the mixture to a tagine. Add the short ribs, pushing them down into the vegetables. Cover the tagine, transfer to the oven and bake until the meat is very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer the short ribs to a plate and cover with aluminum foil. Let the sauce cool for 5 minutes, then skim the fat off the surface. If the sauce is too thick, stir in more stock, 2 Tbs. at a time. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper as needed.

Serve over couscous.
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