Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chicken Curry

This entry is part two of the Okra Smackdown Donut Army has confronted as its author tries to use up the okra from a recent farm box! Luckily, this dish is delicious, with the okra adding a pleasant crunch to an otherwise soft and tender dish.

This chicken curry recipe comes from the February 2007 issue of Gourmet Magazine. It's actually quite simple to prepare, and very flavorful on its first night, and as a leftover.

Chicken Curry
adopted from Gourmet magazine, February 2007

1 1/2 lb chicken (boneless, skinless), cut into chunks
1 tsp salt
2 T vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
2 tsp Madras curry powder
1 c coconut milk
1 14 1/2 oz can tomatoes, with juice
1/4 c golden raisins
10 oz okra, trimmed and cut into chunks
1/2 c cashew nuts, chopped

Begin by preparing boneless, skinless chicken breasts by patting them dry, and sprinkling them with salt. I have veered away from cooking entire chicken breasts per person, and instead always chop my chicken up into chunks or "tenders." This is mostly a matter of portion control, not for weight as much as for waste; no one really needs all the protein that is commonly found in today's chicken breasts. It also makes for safer chicken preparation as "chunks" will be of a more equal size and thickness, and will therefore cook more evenly.

Heat oil in a skillet and then brown the chicken for about five minutes, turning as needed. I get a little paranoid with chicken, and tend to cook chunks for about 7-8 minutes. (For a fun reminder of how our food has become increasingly UN-safe over the years, watch Julia Child's episode on chickens from The French Chef. This clip doesn't show the whole episode, but gives you a taste. Later in the episode, she's hauling raw chicken around from counter to counter, and then grabbing knives, refrigerator doors, and other foods -- all without washing her hands. Anathema with the chickens of today.) Remove the chicken to a plate.

Stir chopped garlic, curry powder, and cayenne into the skillet. Add coconut milk and canned tomatoes, with juice.

Here, the recipe calls for 1/4 c dried currants to be added. I can't seem to find those in town, and so commonly use golden raisins instead. I find this delicious, though I'm sure currants or their substitutes (raspberries, for example) could be great, although they would produce a dramatically fruitier dish than this recipe. I just feel that raisins are very tasty in curries, tend to be more palatable to a broader audience, and, they hold their shape and texture well when cooked.

Add okra, and return the chicken to the skillet. The original recipe calls for entire okra pods to be used. That makes a dramatic presentation, but is a bit much to ask from the person eating, in my opinion. Not only are whole okra pods a bit daunting in size to eat, but it can be messy, tending to fling curry sauce on table-tops, shirts, etc. Plus, since the chicken has been prepared in chunks, it is important visually to make the other items in the dish of comparable size. So, I top and tail my okra, and then cut into chunks.

When all the ingredients are in the dish, partially cover the pot and simmer until chicken is completely cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Sprinkle with cashews and serve over rice.

Farm box ingredients used: garlic, okra

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