Last week, I honored Autumn in all its beauty and posted some recipes for Potato Leek Soup. I made a large batch with the idea of sharing with friends in need of a little extra love. We delivered the last batch and were invited in for a glass of wine and conversation. Typical of the talks I share with my BFF and fellow foodie, the thread led to recent kitchen experiments involving newly discovered culinary delights. I headed home with two new ideas of dishes to play with in my kitchen. This got me thinking about the how the age-old tradition of sharing has led to many culinary masterpieces and the importance of keeping the cooking embers alive.
I have no tolerance for the notion of “secret family recipes” or the appalling practice of leaving out a key ingredient. If one was to research a recipe’s origin, it is likely they will discover that it is not an original. The process goes something like this, grandma or grandpa see it in a magazine or in the paper and decides to make it for the family. Huge hit, it gets made again and again until it becomes, grandma’s or grandpa’s special potatoes that are always served on holidays. Get the picture? One of my grandmothers made the best pies. The secret to her flaky crust? You got it, the recipe that appears on the back of the Crisco can, available to anyone who goes into the grocery store. That said, I am always happy to share any of my recipes and was thrilled when my friend shared this one.
There were several elements in this creation that caught my attention. First of all, it is a one-pot meal. You have your protein, vegetables and starch, easy clean up and all done at the same time. Second, it is made in a slow cooker which I always use with some reservation but maintain an open mind. My friend informed me it works really well in this preparation so carry on. Third, it is inspired by the flavor profiles of Indonesia, a new discovery. Lastly, it was an opportunity to further explore incorporating dried chilies into my culinary creations. I should also mention it came with rave reviews from my friend and her husband. I couldn’t wait to put my spin on it.
Here is how it goes down.
SMOKY INDONESIAN-STYLE CHICKEN CURRY Serves 4
Adapted from a recipe by Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough, authors of The Great American Slow Cooker Book, 2014
5 dried pasilla or New Mexico chilies, stemmed and seeded
1 small shallot, quartered
2T thinly sliced lemongrass
2T tomato paste
2T sweet smoked paprika
1T peeled fresh ginger, finely minced
1T packed dark brown sugar
1T sambal oelek (Asian chili paste)
1 ½ t ground cumin
1 ½ t dried ground coriander
Kosher salt (or coarse sea salt)
6T low sodium chicken stock (I found it necessary to add more, about 8-9 T total)
8 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 ¼ lbs.) skin removed
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ lbs. waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 ½ c)
½ lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2/3 c frozen peas, thawed
1 heirloom tomato, diced for garnish (optional)
1/3 c cilantro leaves, for garnish (optional)
- Place chilies in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water, set aside to soften, about 20 minutes. Drain, and then transfer the chilies to a blender. Add the shallot, lemongrass, tomato paste, smoked paprika, ginger, brown sugar, sambal oelek, cumin, coriander, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Blend the mixture until smooth. With machine running, drizzle the stock through the hole in the lid stopping occasionally to scrape the sides of the jar.
- Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper and evenly coat the thighs with the chile mixture. Layer the potatoes in the bottom of a 5-6 quart slow cooker and arrange the chicken in an even layer on top. Cover and cook until potatoes are fork-tender and the chicken is tender but not falling off the bone, 2-3 hours on high or 6 hours on low. The curry can stay on keep warm setting for up to 3 hours. If possible, check the cooker occasionally and add more stock if needed (I added 3 more tablespoons right before adding the beans).
- About 45 minutes before serving, turn the slow cooker on high (if it was on low or stay warm), sprinkle the beans evenly over the top, cover, and cook until crisp-tender, about 30 minutes. Add the peas and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes. Stir to combine, adjust the salt and pepper if needed. Serve garnished with diced tomato and cilantro, if using.
This recipe did not disappoint. Aromatic and gently spicy, it is soul-warming and satisfying. Holding off on the additions of the beans and peas until the end, allows them to stay crisp tender, a great contrast to the softness of the meat and potatoes. If you are not familiar, Pasilla (pah-SEE-yah) peppers or chile negro, are mild to medium-hot with a deep rich flavor. I added the garnish of tomato and cilantro to cut through the richness a bit and for a splash of freshness and color. Certainly this is optional.See how it goes? My friend shared with me, I share with you and you share with whoever hangs in your culinary circle. I always encourage spreading the love, one dish at a time, but by sharing a recipe, your love goes out to the universe and beyond. Who knows, if I serve this often it may become Mom’s Famous Chicken Curry. Until next time, I send my love and new recipe. Enjoy! Jeanne
“To stop a recipe in its tracks, to label it ‘secret’ just seems mean.” Molly Wizenberg
More shots of harvest bounty.