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Spicy Island Chicken

Spicy, saucy, succulent and sensational! What more can I say?

Any time I’ve suggested a tool, a piece of equipment, or a culinary term that’s unfamiliar to you, you can go to Kitchen Management for more information.

Special Equipment

  • 6-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan with a lid

Ingredients

  • 5 ½ to 6 pounds skinless chicken thighs, hacked in half, through the bone (ask the butcher to do this for you) or combine thighs and skinless drum sticks (leg tips hacked off and kept frozen for stock)
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Pure olive oil, as needed, for browning chicken
  • 4 tablespoons clarified butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 packed cup chopped scallions
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced (leave in some seeds for extra spunk)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 2 generous tablespoons curry powder (I use Madras brand)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 can (14 ounces) cherry tomatoes, drained (retain packing liquid) or use 1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped and drained peeled, unseeded tomatoes (the canned cherry tomatoes are in Italian specialty food shops or well stocked supermarkets with a good ethnic section)
  • 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (whole or low-fat)
  • Suggested accompaniment: hot cooked rice and Fried Indian Bread Puffs

1) To brown the chicken: Salt and pepper the chicken. Heat a shallow layer of oil in a 6-quart, heavy-bottomed saucepan (that comes with a lid) and, when the oil is hot, brown the chicken pieces well, on both sides, turning once (use tongs). Keep transferring each batch of browned chicken to a tray while you continue to brown the rest. When done, pour out all the oil but do not wipe out the pan. Put the same pan back on the stove.

2) To sauté the vegetables and make the sauce: Add the clarified butter and turn the heat on to high. When the fat is hot, add the onions. Cook the onions over high heat, stirring frequently, until they give off their liquid and help deglaze the bottom of the pan. Let the onions turn light golden, and then stir in the scallions, garlic, jalapenos, ginger, curry, cumin and turmeric. Cook the vegetables with the spices until they become fragrant, then add the flour and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the stock, strained tomatoes, tomato paste and yogurt.

3) To simmer the chicken and serve: Add the browned chicken and bring the sauce up to a full simmer, over medium heat. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low and cook the chicken until it’s perfectly tender, about 30 minutes (add some of the retained liquid from tomatoes, if after half the simmering, the mixture seems to need moisture). Season with salt and pepper and serve hot with a simple rice pilaf and a basket of freshly fried Indian Bread Puffs.

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