Monday, March 14, 2011

Meat and Potatoes, Chinese Style

Saucy curry chicken with big chunks of potatoes, over rice.  So comforting on a rainy Seattle day.  Even though the calendar says “goodbye winter”, the Seattle weather forecast for spring always says “lots of curry chicken days ahead”! 

A Chinese recipe with potatoes?  There aren’t many.  But here’s one that fulfills my occasional need for some meat and potatoes comfort food.  It’s hearty, but light, because it uses chicken, basking in a flavorful, golden curry.   The sauce is so plentiful, it’s almost like a stew.  As a kid, I remember how the exotic aroma of curry would infuse the whole house when my mom made this.  I would smash up the softened potato chunks with my fork, and let the puddles of spicy curry gravy soak right in.  Even though there are potatoes in this dish, we always ate this with steamed white rice.  A bit of a carbo overload, I know, but remember my dad’s rice addiction?  (Never a complete meal without rice!)  Old habits die hard, so I still like this over rice.  Once you taste the sauce, you’ll understand why.

Mom used to make this dish with a homemade concoction of curry powder, coconut milk and spices.  However, she recently discovered an incredible packaged Golden Curry Sauce at the Chinese grocery that cuts the preparation time in half, without sacrificing a drop of flavor!  Go to “99 Ranch Market” (22511 Highway 99 in Edmonds, WA 98026) and stock up.  You could probably find this at Uwajimaya, too (just take the photo of the box, pictured below, with you).  Note:  the  photo on the box does not reflect how the sauce will look – it’s not brown, it’s golden (like in my photos).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Curry Chicken with Potatoes

The Golden Ticket:  “S&B Golden Curry Sauce Mix”.  As you can see, it’s not really a “mix”, but looks like chocolate squares.  Each 8.4 ounce box has 8 pre-portioned squares with “break lines” that just need to be cut through.  This recipe calls for half the box, which is the section you see here.  Simply cut down the ridges on a cutting board with your kitchen knife.  Note:  this mix comes in “hot” or “mild”.  I use “hot”, but it is not very spicy.  (If you do want it spicy, just add some red pepper flakes.)
If you make this one night ahead, refrigerate and re-heat, this will be extra flavorful!  The meat and potatoes will just soak in all that curry flavor.  So leftovers will taste better the next day, too.

Serves 6-8
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, halved and cut into ¼ slices
5 – 5 1/2 lbs. bone-in chicken thighs, legs and breasts, cut into 3” length pieces
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cups cold water
4 squares (about 1 oz. each) Golden Curry Sauce Mix/Hot (found in many specialty Asian grocery stores), divided
2 ½ lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut an angle into 2” chunks

Fresh cilantro leaves
Steamed white or brown rice

Your chicken will stay more tender if you use bone-in pieces, but you need to cut them into smaller pieces, about 3” long.  Mom takes a huge cleaver and expertly whacks off the ends of the chicken legs, and cuts up the thighs and breasts as well.  Ask you butcher to do this if you're concerned about about losing a finger!  You could also use boneless pieces of chicken, but just remember to reduce your cooking time.  Also shown above are some of the prepped potatoes and onions, to give you an idea of size and scale.

In a large, enameled cast iron pot or stock pot, heat oil on medium high heat; add garlic, sauté for 30 seconds.  Add onions and continue to sauté for 2 minutes, until the onions sweat but don’t brown.  Increase heat to high; add chicken,  sprinkle with salt and black pepper.  Stir and continue to sauté until the exterior of all the pieces of chicken begin to cook and change color, about 3-4 minutes.  Add water and 3 squares of the curry; stir to submerge the curry pieces into the water.  Cover with lid; when pot starts to boil, stir thoroughly to evenly distribute curry, then reduce heat to simmer.  Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until chicken pieces are 75% cooked, about 25 minutes. 

Add potatoes and remaining 1 square of curry mix.  Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are soft and chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Serve over steamed white or brown rice; garnish with fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.