Monday, March 12, 2012

Chicken Curry with all the Fixin's.

Chicken Curry w/all the fixin's. by annbumbly
Chicken Curry 
(that's a dollop each of apricot jam and chutney on top!)
(Click on the photo for two more pictures of the other stages of this recipe.)

When I was growing up in Missouri, my parents were part of a group of 12 bridge players that met once a month pretty much year round. One of the night's duties for whomever was hosting was feeding all those folks dinner. I remember this chicken curry dish well from those nights! First time I ate it, I fell in love! The flavors are just wonderful and it's such a pretty dinner to serve what with all the little bowls of the different flavors you put on top of the rice and chicken. Try it, and I guarantee everyone will be ohhing and ahhing! (This looks long and complicated. It's not. The entire thing takes maybe an hour - think shortcuts! And if you're having a dinner party, almost the entire dish can be made ahead of time.)

The T'nG: 

The main ingredients part:
5 cups chicken meat - I tend to lean toward all white meat, but you can certainly use dark as well
2 cans coconut milk (be sure it's UNsweetened and look for it in the Asian foods section) OR equivalent homemade coconut milk from a fresh coconut (directions below)
1-2 large cans chicken stock, or equivalent homemade, boiled down to 3 - 4 cups
1 cup chopped onion (or buy a container of already chopped)
1 cup chopped celery (see above)
1/4 cup++ unsalted butter
4 tablespoons or so flour
3 tablespoons+++ Madras brand curry - Penzey's has some great ones as well (hot curry if you prefer, I personally like the mild one and add cayenne)
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
cayenne pepper to taste
salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste 
2 cups basmati or jasmine rice, cooked according to pkg. directions so it's done just before you serve

The chicken part:
Simmer chicken in the canned chicken broth, or make your own broth - whichever is used, I always add 3 or 4 whole allspice and the juice from a fresh-squeezed lemon to enhance the broth's flavor. When the chicken is barely done (it will cook more toward the end), remove from broth and cool. When cool, shred/tear (no knives allowed!) it into bite-size pieces. (Tap on photo above to see an example of size.) Boil broth down till you have 3 - 4 cups. Skim off fat if there is any. 

The coconut part:
(Canned coconut milk is so much easier and NO one will know the difference!)
However, if you're feeling particularly ambitious: Poke open the holes in the end of 1 or 2 fresh coconuts, drain the juices from inside and discard (unless you want to drink it.) Break into manageable pieces (A hammer and a concrete cracking place works well.) Microwave pieces on high for 1 - 2 minutes. You can then carefully insert a knife between the shell and coconut meat and easily wiggle them apart. Put 2 - 3 cups HOT water in a blender, and while running on a slow speed, add the coconut meat pieces bit by bit. When all is added, blend on high until meat is very finely chopped. Let set until ready to use, then strain through cheese cloth. (This was written long before food processors - I'd think that would be a more efficient way to make this.)

In 2 tablespoons butter, saute the onion and celery. When becoming translucent, push aside to make a ring. Melt 3 more tablespoons butter in the center, and when melted, add the flour and the curry. Stir, cooking for 3 - 5 minutes, then stir the entire skillet together. Transfer this mixture to the pot you boiled your chicken in and add 2 cups chicken broth and one can coconut milk. Simmer this mixture for about 30 - 40 minutes. (You can cool and refrigerate at this point.) Just before serving, heat and taste your curry mixture to be sure the seasonings are correct,(I always end up adding more curry and cayenne), then add chicken and mix thoroughly. Add at least 1/2 more can of coconut milk and more chicken broth if still too thick (again, click through on above photo to see an example).

The most important part: 
(What goes on top of your chicken curry (and what makes it such a perfect party entree).)
Putting each in their own pretty bowl with a spoon, you must include the following: 

3 hard boiled eggs, very finely chopped
1 cup +/- unsalted peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1 cup +/- curly parsley, chopped
1 lb. bacon, fried very crisp, drained and finely broken up (I've been known to use bacon bits from Costco.)
1 cup +/- Major Grey's Mango Chutney (usually in the jelly/jam aisle)
1 cup +/- sweetened coconut, toasted
1 cup +/- fresh bananas, roughly chopped; squeeze a little lemon juice on to keep from discoloring
1 cup +/- apricot preserves
1 cup +/- scallions/green onions, tops included, roughly chopped
1 cup +/- golden raisins or currants
(If you think of anything else to add to this list, do let me know!)

To serve:
Put the chicken curry in one lovely serving dish, preferably with a lid. Place the rice in another bowl, preferably lidded, and place both on the buffet - this works much better if it's not on the table you're eating at. Place all the condiments by them. Let everyone serve themselves: rice first, curry mix over the rice, then the condiments in whatever combination each person wants. 
A green salad completes the meal. 

 The zing of all those flavors in your mouth is incredible!

This is so so good, everyone will love it, it's so impressive to serve, such fun for everyone to put together their own flavors, so cheap - just perfect!



'till we feast again!

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