Chicken Curry – 5/1/10

I’m not sure what inspired me to make this dish. I enjoy curries, and I’ve been braising a lot, so I suppose this was a logical dish. I found one of Ming Tsai’s recipes (http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ming-tsai/braised-chicken-curry-with-yams-recipe/index.html), and it was quite simple. I figured I’d give it a try. I didn’t want to make one of those packaged sauce curries that you add as a sauce to your meat – you miss out on a lot of the flavor. Here, where the chicken meat and bones cook for a while in the curry, makes a much more flavorful dish.

Ingredients

* Canola oil
* 2 pounds chicken legs and thighs
* 2 large white onions, chopped
* 1 tablespoons minced garlic
* 1 tablespoons minced ginger
* 1/3 cup madras curry powder
* 2 bay leaves
* 4 cups chicken stock
* 3 large yams, peeled and chopped
* Salt and black pepper to taste

Directions

In a hot stock pot coated with oil, season the chicken and brown all sides. Put chicken aside. In the same stock pot, remove chicken fat, leaving only a coating of oil and saute onions, garlic and ginger. Caramelize well, then add the curry powder. Mix quickly for 2 minutes making sure not to burn the curry powder. Add back the chicken, banana bay leaves and chicken stock. Check for seasoning. Bring to a boil and simmer slowly for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. During the last 30 minutes of cooking, add the yams. Serve on white rice or with toasted pita bread.

I used this recipe as a base, and modified it according to my personal preferences. I was able to find Madras curry at Whole Foods, and used a combination of that and ‘regular’ curry powder, as Madras can be fairly spicy. Instead of yams, I used a combination of carrots and potatoes – the carrots would add sweetness, and I just love potatoes in my curries.

I started by browning my chicken thighs.

I caramelized the onions, added ginger, garlic, and the curry powder and added them to my dutch oven. Then, I added the chicken stock, chicken, and carrots to start the braise.

With about 40 minutes to go in cooking time, I added the potatoes.

In almost 2 full hours of cooking time, the chicken meat was just falling off the bone, and the potatoes were ready.
Finally, I plated my curry over brown rice, with a sprig of fresh parsley from my garden.

I was quite pleased with my first attempt at a curry. The curry wasn’t too spicy, but was a nice flavor. The chicken was tender, and cooked pretty well, I thought. Maybe a little overcooked, but that’s hard to judge in a braise. Close enough. I would make this again, and I wouldn’t change too much.

Braised Pork – 4/25/10

There’s nothing quite like a slowly braised piece of meat. Cheaper cuts of meat (brisket, chuck, shanks, short ribs from a cow) are slowly simmered in a liquid, creating moist, tender meat, and a rich sauce. Restaurants can charge $20-30 for a dish such as braised short ribs, which only costs a few dollars a pound. It’s actually pretty easy to make it at home – it just takes some time and patience.

Today I went with pork shoulder (the cut of meat for carnitas and pulled pork). Five pounds of it. This cut of meat usually sells for less than $2 per pound, making it very economical. In addition, it’s one of the most flavorful parts of the pig, yielding really moist and succulent meat without needing much skill at all.

I decided to first brown my meat in a large stainless steel pan, since there’s more surface area than in my dutch oven. I planned to brown the meat, saute my aromatics, and then transfer to my dutch oven for the braise.

After browning my meat on all sides, I was left with a pan full of browned bits – perfect. This is where a lot of the flavor is developed.

I sauteed my onions and garlic in the pan, and added  my white wine, scraping up the browned bits in the process. Adding chicken stock, carrots and celery, I put everything into my dutch oven and was ready to put it into the oven for a few hours.

After about 2.5 hours, I removed the meat to allow it to rest, and reduced the braising liquid.

At this point, the pork was evidently tender, as it was easily falling apart. I put a few chunks on a plate, spooned over some of the braising liquid, and garnished with some fresh parsley and rosemary.

Ta da! The pork was really tender and moist, and the braising liquid was both rich and flavorful. I’d definitely consider this a success and would make it again. I think it’s also a great dish to make for large groups of people, as the time and effort involved remain relatively the same no matter how much meat is used (as long as it fits in the pot, of course).