I made a new chicken dinner and it is the chicken dinner to rule all chicken dinners.
Or so say I, aka Miss Humble Pants Know It All.
It irritates my husband to no end when I get all cocky with my food-love proclamations. The other day when I wrote about this chicken dinner and called it “THE BEST CHICKEN DINNER EVER,” the man got on my case.
“That’s a stupid thing to say,” he said. “You don’t know it’s the best chicken ever. You shouldn’t say those things.”
He’s right, I don’t know if it’s the best chicken ever. Just because I thought I’d died and went to heaven doesn’t mean I haven’t ever felt that way while eating chicken other times. What can I say. I’m a loose-praiser of chicken dinners. A chicken slut, if you will. Forgive me, World.
(My husband is going to blow his top when he reads that last paragraph. You don’t need to say all that, he’ll scoff. I’ll just ho-ho-ho and say, Read on, baby, and then he’ll read this parenthetical paragraph and get a wonky huge grin on his face. THE MAN HAS THE BEST SHEEPISH GRIN EVER.)
Earlier this week, me and a bunch of friends took our chatty selves out to dinner. We settled on Indian food, but when we got to the restaurant, it was closed. “How about Thai food?” someone suggested.
There was an awkward silence, and then I blurted, “I don’t really like Thai food.”
Gathered around the table at Indian Restaurant Take Two, I clarified. I do like Thai food, I said, but for some reason—maybe the restaurant?—all the food always tastes the same to me, sort of industrialized. (Am I the only one who thinks this?)
Anyway. One of the restaurant’s specials was butter chicken. I had no idea that my latest chicken dish affair was Indian! How could I have missed that important detail? (Especially since the recipe writer said it was Indian. Shame, Jennifer. Shame.) I toyed with ordering the chicken, just to see how my version compared with the real deal, but then I decided, Nah, I love what I made, and it’s easy. I’ll try something different. So I got something else that I can’t pronounce, plus na’an with paneer, and it was wonderful, but I think I prefer my butter chicken. Moral of the story: there is no need to spend twenty-six dollars at an Indian restaurant when you can just whip up a pot of THE BEST CHICKEN EVER from the comfort of your home.
Scratch that. The food was awesome and my friends were even more awesome because they tolerated me eating from their plates à la Helen Keller. Plus, we had ourselves a jolly blast, laughed ourselves silly, and left smelling like exotic spices. Totally worth the splurge.
Now for the chicken. Here’s what you need to know:
*My kids approved (though a couple were deterred by the heat, even with my chili pepper reductions, the wimps), and some of them LOVED it.
*I bet this could easily be made into a vegetarian meal: just use roasted cauliflower, carrots, and chickpeas (or zucchini, tofu, sweet potatoes, etc) in place of the chicken.
The original recipe called for 1 teaspoon of cayenne, but I halved it and found it plenty hot. I’ve read elsewhere that the sour cream can be substituted with yogurt (preferably Greek, perhaps?), and I think the yogurt might actually be more authentic (but I don’t know that for sure).
4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup minced ginger
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, cubed
1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
4 teaspoons cumin
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon chipotle (or cayenne) pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1-2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 pint tomato sauce
1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup brown sugar
Melt the butter in a large pot set over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and ginger. After a couple minutes, add the chicken and fry for a few minutes until it starts to brown.
In a bowl, stir together the sour cream, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, cinnamon, chipotle, salt, and black pepper. Add to the chicken and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.
Pour the whipping cream into a bowl and temper it by slowly whisking in a couple ladlefuls of the hot tomato-sour cream sauce. Add the now-tempered whipping cream to the pot of chicken and add the brown sugar. Bring to a boil before reducing the heat and simmering for another 25 minutes.
Serve hot, over rice, with na’an and some weeds.
This same time, years previous: the hard part, an evening together, the quotidian (5.26.14), the quotidian (5.27.13), the quotidian (5.28.12), questions and carrots, one dead mouse, we love you, Wayne, the ways we play, de butchery, and just the tip.