Chicken Tikka Masala

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So I think I did a post a few months back telling you guys about how the pitcher and lid of my Ninja Blender died and went to Ninja Blender Heaven (i.e., they melted beyond repair in the stupid dishwasher of my apartment. Yes, I am still pissed off about that).

It took me a while to finally get around to going to the manufacturer’s website to go and order the parts for my replacement and when I finally did, I got yet another unwelcome surprise: the model of the pitcher and lid that I needed was temporarily out of stock and there was no EDT on when they would be in stock again.

Of course, this was something I wasn’t made aware of until AFTER I placed the order for them. Of course.

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To the company’s credit, they didn’t actually take the money out of my account until roughly about 3 weeks later when the pitchers were back in stock. A few days later and boom, the package came in the mail and I once again had a Ninja Blender that I could use.

I was relieved, because God knows the motor stand had been looking uber stupid by itself on my countertop for the past three months or so.

Now that I had my Blender back, I already knew the first thing I wanted to use it to cook. It was a recipe I’d seen a while back and gotten SUPER excited about…then got SUPER disappointed over because it would require the use of either an immersion blender or regular blender. Neither of which I had access to.

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Aarti Sequeira is still to date, my favorite of the winners of Next Food Network Star with Jeff Mauro coming in a close second. She’s just so bright and effervescent and it translates into her cooking, which mainly centers around Indian cooking. Indian cuisine isn’t something I’ve done a lot of cooking with, but I always knew that when I did finally give it a whirl, my introduction was going to be guided by Aarti.

And as expected, she did NOT disappoint.

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I don’t know why I seem to have a habit of using recipes that I’ve never made before to feature on the blog. It’s somewhat of a risk considering that it might not actually turn out. But as with the others, this wasn’t the time that that happened. My first attempt at Chicken Tikka Masala was…. successful.

Like, VERY successful.

As in “This chicken is long gone and I’m still thinking about and missing it like it’s an old friend” successful.

The thing is, you will need a blender (or at least a food processor to make it). The first application comes from throwing together a ginger-garlic paste used to marinade the chicken AND flavor the sauce of the dish. There is a substitution option given in the recipe for it but I’m pleading with you… if you’ve got the tools, just take the effort and initiative to make the paste. Please. Your taste buds will thank you.

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The second use of the blender comes in with pureeing the tomato sauce down so that it’s smooth. I didn’t mention this in the print out version of the recipe but I’ll go ahead and say it here: I have seen what happens when you put a hot liquid substance in a blender and crank it up high right off rip.

It ain’t pretty. Don’t do it. Before I even pureed the tomato mixture I took it off the heat and let it cool down for about 5 minutes or so. Even after that, I pureed the tomatoes in increments, and it only took about three blends before everything was ready. And most imporantly: I avoided making a HUGE mess. Just as you should.

My take on Chicken Tikka Masala differs from Aarti’s in several ways: number one, she used plain yogurt in her marinade. I don’t know, but whenever I marinade chicken in yogurt I am always predisposed to using Greek. I went ahead and did the same thing here and I don’t think it caused any huge issues.

Second, Aarti grilled her chicken before adding it to the tomato sauce. Most of you guys already know how grills and I get along (We Don’t. The End.), so I did go ahead and just sear my chicken in oil on the stove top. Once again: I think it was a perfectly fine substitution, but if you’d prefer to grill it, by all means do so.

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People stay hating on using chicken breast in cooking. I really don’t care. I know how to cook it so that it’s not dry and chalky and a hot mess soooo, I will always, ALWAYS default to chicken breast. Who’s gon check me, boo?

This dish cooks down to a stew like consistency and since I like extras in my stew, I went ahead and threw in a can of chickpeas to give the dish some extra protein. It was a good choice.

What can I say about the taste? Well I have to admit that going into making the dish I was worried about the acidity of the tomatoes overpowering everything else. That doesn’t happen. The Ginger-Garlic paste provides SUCH a strong and effective counter balance to the tomatoes. The chicken cooks down so nice and tender in the sauce–and I gotta say I think that Greek yogurt really helps in making it stay moist. Your tongue and stomach will just want to give you a great  big hug after you eat a huge bowl of this stuff. Mine did.

Oh yes! And eating bread on the side with this is just mandatory. Naan bread, preferably. Where are you supposed to get Naan you ask? Right here Silly Billy Gum Drops. Your’re welcome.

Happy Fiesta Friday #122 on this the first week in June!, co-hosted by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Aruna @ Aharam.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

Recipe Adapted from Aarti Sequeira

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Ingredients

For Chicken Marinade:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth (I used Greek, but regular will probably be fine)
  • 3 tablespoons Ginger-Garlic Paste, recipe below (or 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger and 3 cloves garlic put through a garlic press or finely minced)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (or thighs if that’s your preference; chicken breast is just mine), poked with a fork, and cut into large bite-sized chunks

For Masala Sauce: 

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter (or ghee if you can get your hands on some)
  • 1/3 cup Ginger-Garlic Paste, recipe below (or 6 cloves garlic and 2-inch thumb ginger minced)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 8 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 to 2 cups water
  • Oil, for the skillet
  • 1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves, or maple syrup (this is optional)
  • 1 15 oz. can of chickpeas, drained
  • Minced fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Cooked rice, naan, or crusty piece of bread, for serving

For Ginger Garlic Paste

  • 1/2 cup cloves garlic, whole
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Directions

Make the Ginger Garlic paste first: throw all of the ingredients in a blender together and puree until it is smooth. It’s okay if it’s a little chunky, but it should have a ‘pasty’ consistency. You may not need it all, but DO NOT throw out the leftovers. Save it in a small jar for the next time you make this dish (there WILL be a  next time, trust)

For the Marinade: In a large bowl, mix together the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Marinate at least 30 minutes, or in the refrigerator up to overnight.

Place a Dutch oven or heavy bottom non-stick pot over your stove top and place over  high heat with the oil.  Try to shake off as much of the marinade as you can with your hands, but don’t sweat it if the chicken’s not completely clean. When the oil is hot, sear the chicken in the pot until browned on all sides. If you used Greek yogurt, some of the remaining excess may form “curds” in the bottom of the pot. That’s ok, the heat will cook off the majority of it and the rest dissolves in the sauce. (Don’t worry that the chicken will still be a little uncooked, it finishes cooking in the sauce). When the chicken is evenly browned, remove from the pot and place on a plate, cover with foil.

For the sauce:  When you’re ready to make the curry, lower the heat of the pot down to medium heat and add the olive oil and butter (or ghee). When the butter has melted, add the Ginger-Garlic Paste. Saute until lightly browned around the edges. Add the tomato paste and cook until the tomato has darkened in color, about 3 minutes. Add the garam masala and the paprika and saute for about 1 minute to draw out their flavors.
Add the tomatoes, salt, and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook until thickened, about 20 minutes. You may need more water depending on how much liquid the tomatoes give off.

Pour the sauce into a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender, and process until smooth. Pour back into the pot and bring back up to a boil. Add the chicken and  chickpeas, fenugreek leaves or maple syrup, if using. Take the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until chicken is fork tender.  Garnish with minced fresh cilantro, and serve over rice, with naan, or a crusty piece of bread!

Onion Naan

Onion Naan 1

So, it’s been over two years since I last made naan-style bread.

That’s a long time for me to wait to make something that I enjoy so much. But there was a pretty valid reason for it.If you’ve been following me and my blog for a while then you might remember this story. But if you haven’t been following and/or don’t remember then…what the heck? I’ll recap.

See, the last time that I did make naan, I kiiiiiinda started a fire in my oven.

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Oh, yeah. You read that right.

I made one or two pretty serious (and in retrospect, quite silly) mistakes and those mistakes ended up starting a fire. Not to worry. It wasn’t a huge one. No extinguisher was needed. 911 was not called. Everyone is fine. But it still kinda freaked me out.

Since it was my first time making naan I had done some research and seen that the majority of chefs and recipes recommended making it on a pizza stone in the oven with the heat cranked up nice and high–as in, as hot as it could possibly get in order to get those  lovely dark blistered spots on the surface of the naans.

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Since I did have a pizza stone, I figured that I should keep up with Joneses and go ahead and use it. The problem came around after the dough had had its final rest and it was time to actually cook them. I was supposed to brush them with melted butter, then plop them down on the pizza stone for about 1-2 minutes per side.

These…were not very good instructions.

In retrospect I really cannot believe I was so stupid. I mean…extremely high heat and melted grease just don’t typically mix well together in any capacity. I should’ve known better and known to make the judgment call to just brush the butter on AFTER the naans had done cooking. But I didn’t.

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So, what happened was, the butter was sliding off the naan and onto the pizza stone. This wasn’t such a big deal in the beginning. But then, it started sliding off the stone and onto the oven floor. The 500 degree fahrenheit oven floor. You see where this is going, right? After about the third or fourth naan, there was a mini flare up in the oven. I screamed. Then I shut the oven off, walked out of the kitchen and sat down in a chair to calm down.

About oh…fifteen minutes later I went back in the kitchen, feeling pretty calm and chill. I pulled out a non-stick skillet from the cabinet,  put it over the stovetop and  turned the heat on medium.

Then, I finished the rest of my naans. They were delicious. Fast forward two years later. I was making an Indian entree dish for the first time and I just knew that it wasn’t going to feel complete without some from-scratch naan bread to eat with on the side.

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I was prepared for it this time. I knew that I could probably go ahead and use the pizza stone again without having the same incident that I did before, but with summer fast approaching and a tiny kitchen through which the A/C doesn’t ventilate as well as it could, who feels like cranking up the oven to a million degrees? Not me. So I just went ahead and used my non-stick skillet to cook my naans once again. And as you can see, it didn’t force a sacrifice at all on getting the lovely blistered prints on the dough.

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Notes on the actual recipe: Dice the onions as small as you possibly can. When onions get VERY small and thin and are exposed to high heat, they sometimes disintegrate. This actually will work in your favor; the flavor of the onion becomes even more absorbed in the dough that way and it’s more tha flavor that you want and not so much a chunk of onion in your mouth. There is flexibility in using regular butter or vegetable oil in the recipe, but I’m going to go ahead and insist that you make an effort to use the ghee. As someone who has made it both ways, there IS a noticeable difference in the taste when using ghee as opposed to vegetable oil. Plus, ghee is something that can usually be found down the ethnic/foreign foods aisle of most standard grocery stores.

Notes aside, This bread is SO good. The onion flavor is just outstanding. I actually prefer this recipe to the one I’ve used before; the bread comes out VERY chewy and tender on the inside and also reheats VERY well in the microwave whereas sometimes leftover naans can have a tendency to get tough. Really good stuff here, guys.

Happy Fiesta Friday weekend #121 as well. Happy Memorial Day to all of us in the States 😉

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Onion Naan

Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface and hands
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)*
  • 2 tablespoons melted ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil plus more

*I didn’t have any yogurt at the time that I made this; instead I used 1 cup of buttermilk. It worked fine, you just may not need to use it all.

Directions

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 100°. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Whisk 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl to blend. Add yeast mixture, onion, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons ghee. Mix dough until blended but still shaggy.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead until a smooth dough forms, adding flour as needed (dough will be sticky), about 5 minutes. Lightly grease another large bowl with ghee, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and divide into 10 pieces. Using floured hands, roll each piece into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest 10 minutes

Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat with ghee. Working with 1 piece at a time, stretch dough with your hands or roll out with a rolling pin to 1/8-inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until lightly blistered, puffed, and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Wrap in foil to keep warm until ready to serve.

West Indian Chicken Curry

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There’s an Ethiopian restaurant in my town that’s been here for a pretty long time but I still have yet to try it out. I’ve heard wonderful things about the food there, but the truth is that despite my love for cooking when it comes to my habits of eating out, I usually tend to stay within a specific ‘comfort zone’ of restaurants and joints that I already know of and like. I’m not entirely sure why this is.

Maybe it’s just because I take my food SO seriously and there are few things I can think of that can get under my skin than an unsatisfactory meal. It’s seriously enough to put me in a bad mood for the  rest of the day/night. I don’t play about my food.

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What’s strange is, although I’m wary of trying out new food that I pay other people to cook for me, I’m the complete opposite when it comes to food that I make myself.  Unless it just ‘sounds’ nasty or has an ingredient that I don’t care for, I’m almost always willing to try out a ‘different’ or ‘new’ recipe. If I think it sounds challenging or will teach me a new technique, I’m going to want to at least give it a shot. I realize that may sound like a huge contradiction. I think maybe it has something to do with my knowing that even if there’s something about the dish that I don’t care for initially, I will probably be able to salvage it so that it’s at least edible.

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Sometimes I’m not only willing to try out a new recipe/dish, I’m also willing to go the extra mile for it. That’s pretty much what happened with today’s post. I’d had it on my radar for a while, but had put it off because the ‘extra mile’ in this case was two things that I didn’t already have in the house: a curry powder made almost completely from scratch containing fresh whole spices, and a coffee grinder and/or spice mill to grind said spices up after they were toasted.

One day I was feeling particularly restless with our dinner rotation and decided to just go out on a limb. In short, I bought a coffee grinder then made the trek out the new Whole Foods that FINALLY  came and opened in my town, where I was able to get my hands on all the spices that I needed. I rationalized it with the logic that there ARE other recipes I want to try that require me to grind up spices, and that since I am a fan of this type of cuisine, I can always find another use for the leftover ones I had over from this recipe.

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Then, I actually made the dish and came to the very hasty conclusion that I really didn’t need to find any other justification for my going the extra mile and buying a whole appliance just to cook one meal.

Why? Because that one meal was absolutely delicious.

Holy moly, guys.

Even if I never use this coffee grinder for any other purpose BUT to make this curry, I will still not regret having bought it one bit. It was just SO worth it, from start to finish. The smell of the spices toasting in the skillet after I ground them up gave me the feeling almost from the start that the flavors of this dish were going to be phenomenal. It made me kinda not even care that turmeric has the ability to stain your counter top/dishes/hands for a LOOOONG time unless you scrub really super duper hard at them.

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I know that typical curries are made with whole, bone-in chicken pieces cut up. However, my go-to preferred way of preparing just about ANY chicken dish is using the good ‘ol boneless/skinless breast. It’s just what I like. However, this recipe is versatile enough to where if you wanted to go darker and use bone-in thighs or drum-sticks and remove the meat at the end, it should be perfectly fine.

Another important note: my older sister can’t do very many spicy foods, so I was forced to leave out some of the chili flakes and leave the Scotch bonnet peppers out entirely. Be warned: Scotch bonnets can pack a SERIOUS punch of heat and are therefore, not to be trifled with all willy-nilly.  There’s already ground up chili flakes in the curry powder itself, so I recommend that you taste and adjust according to your ability to take the heat. Also, because chickpeas and corn were all that I had in the house at the time, that is what I used to here. Fortunately, I can easily see you subbing in any other vegetable of your preference and it still turning out fine.

This is one of those dishes that taste even better as leftovers because the flavors have time to meld and permeate the meat the longer that they sit. The sauce is just DIVINE y’all. Have plenty of naan/flat bread on hand for dipping.

I’m linking this post to Fiesta Friday #117, co-hosted this week by Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau and Scarlett @ Unwed Housewife.

West Indian Chicken Curry

Recipe Adapted from Emeril Lagasse

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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed dried chili flakes
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • About 5 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into large chunks
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 hot pepper, such as Scotch bonnet or serrano, seeded and finely chopped, or to taste (optional according to preference)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can of whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas, drained

Directions

In a medium skillet or saute pan combine the turmeric, chili flakes, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves, ginger, garlic powder, mustard seeds, pepper, allspice, and cinnamon and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until spices are fragrant and just beginning to smoke. Remove from the heat, transfer to a shallow plate and allow to cool completely.

Transfer to a coffee grinder or spice mill and process until very finely ground. Reserve 6 tablespoons of the spice mixture separately and transfer the remainder to an airtight container and save for another purpose.
In a mixing bowl combine the chicken, 2 tablespoons of the curry powder, 1 teaspoon of the salt and 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and set aside, covered, for 20 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and, when hot, add the chicken pieces and cook, turning occasionally, until golden brown on all sides, about 8 minutes.

Add the onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, hot pepper if using, and remaining 4 tablespoons curry powder and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the chicken broth, coconut milk, and brown sugar and bring to a simmer. Add the remaining teaspoon of salt, and cook, stirring occasionally about 1 hour. After about 1 hour, add the corn and chickpeas and allow to cook until chicken is very tender and falling from the bone and the sauce has reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, about an additional 30-40 minutes.
Serve chicken curry with naan flat bread and/or rice.

Curried Chicken Sandwiches

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I’m always a little wary going through a drive through or a sit down restaurant and ordering a sandwich. Why? Because I know that unless I’m able to be standing right there and watching them make my food, there’s a pretty good chance that someone working there is going to get my order wrong. And fewer things tick me off more than someone making a sandwich for me that is made ‘wrong’.

I’ve always been pretty picky when it comes to my sandwiches guys- I’m not like most people.

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In the first  place, I absolutely can’t stand mayo or miracle whip. Never have, never will. To this day, I don’t know how people eat that stuff. The smell alone triggers my gag reflex, which is why I make a special point of requesting it left off any sandwich I get anywhere. In the past I’ve received sandwiches where they put the mayo or miracle whip on anyway. Regardless of the fact that I could have scraped it off, regardless of how much I paid for the food- if they put mayo or miracle whip on it, I WILL throw it out completely. No amount of scraping off can get rid of the smell or the slight, tangy after taste. Just thinking about it is grossing me out, so I’m moving on.

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Another pet peeve of mine is when businesses lay on the condiments that I do like too thick, like oil and vinegar. I understand you want me to taste it, but gol-ly: the bread should not be soaking wet by the time I get back so that it literally ‘squishes’ when I take a bite. That’s gross. My favorite deli place never fails to do this to me so I’ve learned to just leave off any wet condiments at all when ordering and just waiting until I get home to sprinkle my own vinegar on it just the way that I like it.

I usually have to repeat myself in asking for ‘no cheese’ on a sandwich too- it catches a lot of people off guard. Apparently cheese on sandwiches is a pretty popular thing.

I hate those huge tomatoes. Don’t try to put one on my sandwich. I will throw you major shade.

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Come to think of it, usually the only things that I order on most sandwiches is just the meat, lettuce, and MAYBE a few veggies. It’s weird I know, but that’s just how I roll. Having said all that, this recipe may seem to be missing quite a few key components that most people would put on a sandwich. That’s only because it’s made the way that I would like it- don’t take it personally. Honestly, I couldn’t tell you what the right kind of cheese would work well with a chicken curry sandwich so I didn’t try. I didn’t include a recipe for a yogurt raita or a mayonnaise based condiment; I’m not a fan of either. I’m giving you guys a sandwich with the bread meat, lettuce, onion and roasted red pepper because that’s exactly how I ate this thing. And to me, that was pretty darn perfect all on it’s own.

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However, feel free to add cheese, tomato, raita, mayonnaise to your heart’s content if that’s your thing. I’ll just be over here with my plain sandwich.

Broiled chicken is really underrated. It can take the plain, ordinary chicken breast and elevate it to the level that it really deserves giving that flavorful, dark char on the outside that looks and tastes really good. So instead of grilling the meat like Bon Appetit did, I broiled it in my oven.  It made the cook time super quick and easy, with wonderful results. The chicken was moist and flavorful from the overnight buttermilk brine that really packed a punch.

(Me and the grill still don’t get along in case you were wondering. )

I’ll be taking these sandwiches to the Fiesta Friday #61 party hosted by Angie and co-hosted this week by  Selma @Selma’s Table and Margy @La Petite Casserole. See you guys there!

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Curried Chicken Sandwiches


Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit.com

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Ingredients

Curry Brine

  • 1 quart buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

Sandwiches

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound), halved horizontally
  • 1/4 recipe Curry Brine
  • 4 large or 8 small slices country-style bread
  • 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 roasted red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped romaine lettuce

 Directions

1. For Curry Brine: combine the buttermilk, kosher salt, black pepper, curry powder, cumin, turmeric.

2. Add chicken and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.

3. Preheat broiler and spray broiler pan with non stick cooking spray.

4. Broil chicken until golden brown and slightly charred and juices run clear. (Inner temp of chicken should reach 160°-165°)

5. Layer bread with chicken, onion, red pepper and lettuce. Serve. 

Dothraki Flat Bread

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Game of Thrones Series Week #6

Even though there was no new Game of Thrones shown last week, I still wanted to post a new recipe today for the series we’ve got going on for it now. I’m having that much fun with this whole making themed food thing. It kinda makes me sad that the season will be over soon…

When I first picked this recipe out, I was a little worried about writing the post because I wouldn’t have an episode to recap and review. I didn’t know what the heck I would be talking to you guys about if I couldn’t be talking about the previous week’s episode. I thought that I wouldn’t have something interesting to talk about.

And then, I made the flatbread. And guys, do I have a story for you.

The official, published title of this post is “Dothraki Flatbread”, but for the sake of the story that’s about to come, I’m gonna go ahead and add a little subtext to that:

“Dothraki Flatbread (And That One Time When Jess Set Her Oven on Fire)”

Yep, you read that right. While making this flatbread, my oven literally caught on fire. Twice.

Curious to hear what happened? Just keep reading.

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I decided to make flat bread for a couple of reasons: first of all, I friggin love the stuff. Chewier and fluffier than traditional pita bread, is flat bread is cooked over very high heat until it puffs up and browns on either side. Then it’s brushed with melted butter and herbs and served warm. I’ve wanted to make some of my own for a while (just to see if I could), and as I was pondering this, it occurred to me that it would be a recipe that I could work into my GoT series. Although Khal Drogo and the Dothraki are far behind Daenerys by now in the television series, I didn’t see any reason why I could include a recipe in my blog series that was dedicated to them. Flat bread’s (or by it’s traditional name, naan) origins are in Asian and Indian cuisines, and I can’t help but think that in George R. R. Martin’s imaginary world, the Dothraki are meant to represent an ‘Asian’/”Ethnic’ culture. I could get into another conversation about that, but instead. I’ll just stay on topic with the story of what happened with the flat bread.

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Okay, so when I was researching cooking techniques and methods of making flat bread, I saw that there were three ways of doing this: making it over a grill, frying it on a stove top, and baking it on a pizza stone in the oven. I’m a lousy griller, so the first option was automatically out. In order to choose between the final two options, I read through some past reviews of other cooks that had made it themselves at home to see what results it yielded for them. Here’s the thing, guys: almost every single review I read (seriously, just about every one) said that frying the flat bread over the stove would make your kitchen/house VERY smoky and set off all your smoke alarms and would take forever to clear out. (The skillet needs to be very VERY hot in order to cook the bread properly) On the other hand, everyone that baked their flat bread in the oven on a baking/pizza stone (again at a very high heat, like 500 degrees hot) said that it resulted in little to no smoke at all, and everything turned out easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy.

What would you all have done if you were in my situation and shoes?

Naturally, you would’ve chosen the baking stone option, right? I mean, what reason would you have to doubt that anything would happen to go wrong for you, when it had gone so well for everyone else? My thoughts exactly.

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In retrospect, there are a few things that I probably would’ve done differently. First, I should have put a sheet pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Second, I probably shouldn’t have brushed the melted butter over the bread while it was still in the oven on the pizza stone. I suspect that it could have avoided all the drama that ensued. Unfortunately, I didn’t do either of those things, so here’s what happened:

I’ve never turned my oven up that high before besides when using the broiler. I wasn’t prepared for how hot it got. It got really, really, REALLY hot. When I placed the naan on the pizza stone for it’s cooking on the first side, it began to smoke a little from how hot it was. That concerned me a little, but I still let it go on doing it’s thing. The real problems started when I brushed the butter on the bread and flipped it. The butter began sliding off the bread and onto the pizza stone…then off and onto the scalding hot bottom of the oven. Butter and intense heat makes grease spots. Really, really, really, REALLY hot grease spots make the “f word”.

You see where I’m going with this?

So yeah, I ignited a fire in my oven. Well, maybe not a fire. More like a big flame. A brief one. It flashed for like two seconds. I screamed. It disappeared. It flared again. I screamed again. Then when it went out, I immediately turned off the oven, removed the pizza stone and put it into the sink with the half-cooked naan still on it. Then I went and sat my shaking, sweaty, frustrated self in a chair for a while to try and calm down.

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Fast forward about 20 minutes later. Me and my older sister have opened up the sliding glass door by the kitchen all the way and have recruited every fan in the house in the effort of blowing out the smoke that has accumulated as a result of my flat bread fiasco. I’m in the middle of a mini-meltdown, ready to throw up my hands and write myself off as the worst cook ever, repeatedly and frantically apologizing and shaking my head (the way I always do when I mess something up in the kitchen). My older sister is patiently and confidently assuring me that it’s not that big a deal, I’m not a bad cook, and the smoke really is going to be all cleared out of the room in about an hour. She also suggests that I try just finishing the rest of the flat breads on a skillet over the stove.

Well, I did. And guess what? Little to no smoke at all. It took about ten minutes, flat. How bout them apples? Don’t ever let me find the people from the reviews who said that baking it on a pizza stone was easier. It will not end well for them.

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Like I said, the fire probably could have been prevented if I had taken the extra precautions with the sheet pan and holding off on brushing on the butter. All the same, I’m still going to be making my flat bread on a skillet on the stove from here on out. Fires are for losers, and the clean up in the aftermath is no fun.

I’m in no hurry to repeat the process of scrubbing out my oven with cleaner, rinsing it out with vinegar & lemon juice, THEN baking lemon and orange peels in it for over and hour just to get rid of the fumes.

So yeah: how was you guys weekend? Anything more eventful than a fire?

Game of Thrones Series

Week 1: Pigeon {Chicken} Pies

Week 2: Winterfell Brown Bread

Week 3: Southron Spinach & Plum Salad

Week 4: Baratheon Smothered Pork Chops & Apple Gravy

Week 5: Lemon Cakes

Week 6: Dothraki Flat Bread

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Dothraki Flatbread

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Recipe Adapted from Allrecipes.com

Ingredients

  •  1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp ground basil
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted

 Directions

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy.

2. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth.

3. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

4. Punch down dough. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

5. In a small bowl, combine melted butter, minced garlic and basil. Set aside.

6. During the second rising, heat a cast iron skillet or regular, non stick pan over high heat. Make sure you have a lid large enough to fit the  skillet.

7. Dampen your hands in the bowl of water and pick up one of your flatbreads, flip-flopping it from one hand to the other to lightly dampen it. Gently lay it in the skillet and set your timer for 1 minute. The dough should start to bubble. Brush top of flatbread with melted butter.

8. After about 1 minute, flip the flatbread. It should be blistered and somewhat blackened. Brush cooked side with the butter, then cover the skillet with the lid and cook 30 seconds to 1 minute more.

9. Place the flatbread in a tea towel-lined dish. Repeat with the rest of the flatbreads.

 

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Honey Baked Chicken

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I’m listening to Pandora music radio as I’m writing this post, so I thought I’d choose it as the topic of conversation (Besides the food. We’ll get to that in a minute.)

Most of you guys have an account with Pandora, right? I mean,  it’s only one of the best inventions out there to hit the internet/technology scene in recent years. For those of you that don’t have one, you’re really missing out. Imagine your favorite artist, album, genre or even song. Then imagine a computerized musical library that will take that artist, album, genre or song, and construct an entire ‘radio station’ centered around it. If you hear a song that you like or are familiar with, you have the option of ‘thumbing up’ that song so that the computer can know to play it again in the future as well as find other songs to play that are similar to it. If you hear something you don’t like, then you have the option of ‘thumbing down’ to let the computer know not to play that song, or any song like it again on your radio. That’s pretty much how it works on every station, on as many stations as you like.

That’s Pandora. Pretty awesome right?

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I’ve said before in the past that when it come to my taste in music, I kinda resemble a schizophrenic. That wasn’t a bad joke, guys. It’s totally true. Anyone who would randomly shuffle though my ipod would be baffled to say the least at just how wide a range of music I’m interested in. I’m telling you, some of them just don’t seem like they were ever meant to be on the same mp3 player. The same goes for my Pandora station. If there’s a method to that madness, I still haven’t discovered it yet.

For example: what kind of person has a station dedicated to Blackmore’s Night (medieval folk music), then a station dedicated to Erykah Badu (neo-soul)? There’s nothing remotely similar about Evanescence (gothic rock) and Cece Winans (Christian gospel), but I’ve sure got a station dedicated to both on my account. The Spice Girls and Disney don’t mix…except in Jess(ica)’s world, that is.

(…Yeah, don’t judge me about those last two, I’m a sucker for 90’s nostalgia.)

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I used to be a little embarrassed about my crazy taste(s) in music, but I’ve come to kind of embrace it now. Music is the most meaningful to me in the ways that I can connect it to my own life experiences. I have certain days in my life that call for a different type of music or sound. Some days my life is best expressed through the smooth, ambient sound of  neo-soul, while others days have a more aggressive, edgy vibe of gothic rock. No one day is the same, but life isn’t like that either. As I sit here writing this post I’m listening to my smooth jazz station, but tomorrow I could be in the mood for some Earth, Wind and Fire. No big deal. Variety’s the spice of life, right?

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I’ll tell you what IS a big deal, though and it’s this chicken. Don’t let the simplicity of the recipe fool you, guys. The flavor in the seasoning on this bird really packs a punch. I’ve made it a few times now, and it’s still a favorite at the homestead. The spices give it an exotic, almost Indian taste so if you’re a fan of that type of cuisine, you’ll really go for this.

And even if you’re not an Indian-cuisine fan, I’d be willing to bet you’d still go for this anyway. Because it’s just that delicious.

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Honey Baked Chicken

Recipe Adapted from “An African American Cookbook”

CLICK HERE FOR  PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs  boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter or margarine
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp turmeric

 Directions

1. Arrange chicken in shallow baking pan.

2. Combine butter, honey, mustard, salt, curry powder, coriander, cardamom and turmeric. Pour over chicken.

3. Bake at 350° for  about 45-50 minutes, or until chicken in tender and browned.

4. Serve with rice.

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