Monday, June 4, 2012

Crockpot Chicken Curry

Hi. Remember me? The woman behind the cake behind the allergies behind the children behind the blog behind the recipes. I didn't even try to make that make sense. It's me. Edith. Edith-Nicole to some of you. "Chef Edith" to others (heavens, that's never going to not be funny!). I've been busy. And it's not the kind of busy that is appropriate to ramble on about on one's food blog. It is, however, the kind of busy that calls for crockpot dinners.

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This one here is a G-E-M. I've made it twice in the last month and shared it with company both times. Served it with sweet brown rice the first time and quinoa the second. It has been a hit with husbands, girlfriends, babysitters, and even the children. The recipe is based on one from a crockpot cookbook to which I've referred a handful of times here before - it's not failed me yet, you should get it if you are looking for a whole slew of crockpot basics. My modifications were as follows: less oil, more acid (added tomato paste and increased quantity of citrus), less work (I eliminated pureeing the sauce the second time I made this and preferred the texture when it wasn't super smooth), and more spice but less spic-Y (worked to make it palatable for the children without sacrificing flavor for the adults, upping certain typical curry spices and swapping out cayenne and hot paprika for increased amounts of aleppo pepper and sweet paprika - win. win. win.).

Here are lots of pictures. Since the photo-editing website I used closed, I've been messing around with Hipstamatic, with little success but a lot of fun. I can't decide which to share with you so I'm just sharing them all, in chronological order. Go make this! It's really good!

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Crockpot Chicken Curry
Yield: 4-5 servings

2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs*
1 tablespoon oil (I used bacon fat)
3 onions, coarsely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground or whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon aleppo pepper
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (brown or yellow)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon fresh (jarred) ginger
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 28-oz can whole or diced tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh lime or lemon juice (from about 2 limes or 1 lemon)
1 head cauliflower, broken up into large florets
A handful frozen peas (1/2 - 1 cup) (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

To serve
2 cups cooked quinoa**
Plain yogurt
Lemon or lime wedges
Fresh cilantro

Heat oil (or bacon fat) in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Saute for 5 minutes, or until softened. While the onions are cooking, cut up the chicken breasts, if using, into palm-sized pieces. Add garlic, spices, ginger, and 1/8 teaspoon salt more, and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and tomatoes and stir over medium heat until there are no clumps of tomato paste left. If using whole tomatoes, break them up a bit with a wooden spoon or spatula. Remove from heat and stir in lime or lemon juice. (If you want a smooth sauce, puree it now in a blender or food processor. Totally unnecessary though.)

Grease the ceramic dish of a large round or oval crockpot. Layer a third of the chicken at the bottom of the dish (put dark meat at bottom, white meat at top, if using a mix). Top with quarter of the sauce and then a third of the cauliflower. Repeat two more times and then finish with the remaining quarter of the sauce. Cook on high for 1 hour, then reduce heat to low and cook for 3.5 hours. Add peas (I also put some cooked sweet potatoes in at this point because I had them) and cook for another half hour.

Serve hot over rice or quinoa, with plain yogurt, lemon or lime wedges and some fresh cilantro sprigs.

* I think the thighs end up better. Use all thighs if you like dark meat. If you use chicken breasts only, check them after 3 hours on low, instead of 3.5-4.

** To make quinoa, bring 1 cup rinsed quinoa + 2 cups water or broth to boil in a saucepan, reduce heat and simmer for about fifteen minutes, until water is absorbed and quinoa has little tails. Fluff with a wooden spoon and serve.

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