Weekly Winner: How the heck did I miss this?!

To date, I have included 85 “Weekly Winners” in this blog which spans almost two years.  Last night for a cozy, stay-at-home New Year’s Eve I made one of my all time favorite dishes EVER.  This is a dish I have had the recipe for since 2007! So why, oh why has it never made its way into my “Weekly Winner” list?  I simply do not have an explanation for this.  I even went through each month’s archives because I was certain — convinced! – that I had to have included it.  But nope, not there!  So to start 2014 off right I have decided to make amends.  Here is the recipe for one of my all time favorite dishes that I make at home.  Chicken Tikka Masala.

Chicken_Tikka_MasalaThis version comes from Cook’s Illustrated magazine. Yes, it is a bit time-consuming but I wouldn’t omit a single step.  Every time I make this, I am always amazed by how soul-satisfying and complex the sauce is.  It is always a bit more “tomato-y” than I remember yet I always make it the same.  Simply put, this dish surprises me in a pleasant way every time I make it.  How in the world could I have omitted this for so long?   So, without further ado… here is the recipe for the first Weekly Winner of 2014: Chicken Tikka Masala.  I always serve it with basmati rice and my hubby’s home-made fabulous garlic naan. The photo is not mine — I didn’t take a picture because I was sure I had already written about it … doh!

Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 4-6


Chicken Tikka

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon table salt

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat

1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)

2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 fresh serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, flesh minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 teaspoons sugar

½ teaspoon table salt

2/3 cup heavy cream

1. FOR THE CHICKEN: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt in small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic, and ginger; set aside.
2. FOR THE SAUCE: Heat oil in large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10 to 18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.
4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

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