Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cooking my way through our cupboards

Since I'm currently out of work and hopefully going back to school in the fall, we're trying to save money. A great way to do that (especially with how much food we have in this house) is to cook my way through what we have in our cupboards before going back to the store for more.

So, last night, I made my first Chicken Curry, and I really wish I had started making this a long time ago. Last year, my sister bought me this great set of Indian spices from The Spice Store over on Wells St. in Chicago. In that set was a hot curry powder, which really made this whole dish. The best part was that while it had some great spice and flavorful it wasn't all that hot spicy, which means that you could even load it up with more vegetables and get kids to eat it. (Of course, I take kids to Ethiopian restaurants, so what do I know.)

Anyway, here is the recipe as I made it, but you could add some other vegetables depending on what you like (green beans, peas, garbanzo beans) or replace the chicken with another kind of meat depending on what you have in the house (pork, leftover turkey, lamb).

Remember, I cook for 2 people with leftovers, so you can add or subtract the amount of meat and veggies depending on your numbers. This recipe does make plenty of sauce to go along wtih even more meat and veggies than this calls for.)

For the spice mixture:
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 Tbsp. hot curry powder (they also sell a sweeter curry powder, so if you really hate any hotness, you might be able to use that instead, but I haven't tried it, so let me know how it turns out)
1 Tbsp. paprika
1 tsp. cumin
For the rest of it:
1-2 chicken breasts, skinned and cut into chunks (or by a whole chicken and cut it up, or drumsticks, or chicken wings, or chicken thighs, or whatever you have in your freezer)
3 cloves of garlic, minced (I used really large cloves, so if you only have smaller ones, then increase this number)
2 yellow onions, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped (I used canned tomatoes and it worked perfectly)
A handful of red potatoes, peeled, diced, and precooked so still firm (cook in boiling water for about 7 minutes)
1/2 c. edamame (I like buying the precooked ones in the shell, and then I just take them out of the shell)
1 can of tomato paste
2-3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1 c. chicken broth/stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot. (I used my Creuset French Oven for this, and it worked really, really well.) Add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes until the onions are soft and it starts to brown a bit. Then, add the chicken and cook for a couple of minutes. (This will cook a lot longer, so it doesn't have to be cooked through in this step.)

Stir in the spice mixture to coat all the chicken. Quickly add the can of coconut milk and chicken broth. (If you wait too long on this step, you'll end up burning the spices instead of just releasing the flavors.) Add the bay leaf, tomatoes, and can of tomato paste.

Let the pot simmer for at least 30 minutes to let the sauce thicken, flavors combine, and chicken cook all the way through. (If you're using bigger pieces of meat -- like drumsticks, wings, or thighs still on the bone -- let it simmer for at least an hour to cook through and get tender.) Finally, add the potatoes, edamame, and any other vegetables that you're using, and let cook about 10-15 minutes more. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over cooked rice and/or with naan (you can buy this at Trader Joe's or Whole Foods).

And, even better, it heats up really well the next day for leftovers. Enjoy!

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