Sunday, November 14, 2010

curry chicken and potatoes

I love when I taste something for the first time and it feels like coming home: warm, inviting, comforting. That is how I feel about this curry.

I have no childhood memories of eating curry. My parents did a wonderful job of introducing my sisters and I to new foods but I do not believe that any type of curry was ever among them.
The summer I was 17, I spent three weeks in India. I was with other kids from all over the states on a short-term missions trip. I was this skinny, wide eyed kid from Alaska. I woke up the first morning saying over and over to myself, "I am in India, I am in India, I am in India." It was amazing.
I always remember my dinner the first night- my brain was still buzzing from the airplanes and the cacophony of sights and sounds during the drive from the airport to where we stayed. At dinner time, we sat down at tables in a dimly lit hall and were served curry potatoes and chipatis. I rolled the potatoes up in the chipati and ate it like a burrito. It was mildly spiced and the potatoes were a soft golden yellow. I felt it filling me up, nourishing me in a new way. For months when I returned back to the states, I dreamed of those curry potatoes.

I did initially made this dish in an attempt to capture some of that early curry love but ended up falling for it for it's own virtues: tender chicken and potatoes soaked through with aromatic broth.
 I have learned that curry powder is really just a mixture of other spices. This original recipe is from the cookbook "The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes" by Judith Finlayson. It does not call for any curry powder, just a blend of spices. However I, very uncharacteristically, did not read the full recipe beforehand. It was only when I started cooking that I realized it called for caradmom pods and not ground cardamom, cumin seeds and not ground cumin. I added what I had of ground spice and in an attempt to salvage the dish, added a few tablespoons of curry powder. It was such a relief when it turned out so well! I love happy mistakes. Below is my adaptation of the recipe and I really love it.

A note about crockpots: This recipe helped usher in a new era of successful crockpot cooking in my household. I say successful because early on in our marriage I had made several valiant attempts at various crockpot dishes but it all ended in such disaster that I gave it up for a few years. It was only after dinner at a friends home, with a delicious roast they made in the crockpot, that I felt sufficiently inspired to give it another try. It really is pretty fantastic at the end of a day to walk into my home and smell a completed dinner.

curry chicken and potatoes

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 1/2 lbs chicken pieces (this can be a whole cut up chicken, but I think it's best with bone-in, skin-on chicken breast)
6 medium potatoes (about 2 lbs- red potatoes work well)
3 yellow onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced gingerroot
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon tumeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon curry powder 
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 bay leaf
3 cups chicken stock

1) In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until softened.

2) Add garlic, gingerroot, coriander, tumeric, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, salt and black pepper, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add lemon juice, bay leaf and 2 cups of chicken stock. Reduce heat to low.

3) While the sauce is on low, scrub and peel potatoes. Cut each potato into half length-wise and then each half into thirds. Place a layer of potatoes in the bottom of the crockpot and place chicken pieces on top of the potatoes. (You may certainly add more potatoes- it's a great way to stretch this dish for a crowd or for greedy potato eaters.)

4) Pour sauce over chicken, cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours or on high for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until juices run clear when pierced with a fork.

5) Once the chicken is cooked through, remove the pieces from the crockpot and discard the skin and bones. Also, discard the bay leaf. Shred the chicken and add it back to the crockpot, submerging it in the sauce and potatoes. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Elizabeth K said...

I made this for a work potluck, every last morsel was gone! A big hit for very little work.