Weekly Winner: One-Pan Peanut-Poultry-Potato ‘Palooza!

peanut chile chickenPeanut butter and chicken are like that unlikely paired odd couple you know.  “What do they see in each other?”  “How does that work? They’re nothing alike”.  Perhaps the answer is as easy as: They simply bring out the best or unexpected in each other.  Such is the case with Crispy Peanut-Chile Chicken with Sweet Potatoes.  While you maybe wouldn’t automatically think to combine spicy chiles, chicken, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and peanuts….once you do, you will understand the magic.

This unexpected recipe comes from Fine Cooking Magazine.  It comes together fairly quickly and easily –everything cooks in the same pan (easy cleanup!) so is quite doable for a weekday meal but also different enough and presents nice enough for a company dish.

Crispy Peanut-Chile Chicken with Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, creamy or chunky
  • 2 Thai bird chiles, minced (keep the seeds from one of them)
  • 5 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about 2-1/3 cups)
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 large sweet potatoes (about 6 cups), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 2 lb.)
  • 7 oz. cherry tomatoes (about 1 cup)
  • 2 oz. (1/2 cup) shelled roasted, salted peanuts, coarsely chopped

Procedure:

  • Thoroughly combine the peanut butter, chiles, 3 Tbs. of the oil, the lemon juice, 2 tsp. of the garlic, and 3/4 tsp. salt in a gallon-size zip-top bag. Lightly sprinkle the chicken thighs with salt, and then add to the marinade. Refrigerate for 1 hour, massaging every 15 minutes.
  • Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 375°F. Heat the remaining 2 Tbs. of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet, preferably cast iron, on medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, the remaining garlic, 2 Tbs. cilantro, and 1/2 tsp. salt, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and the garlic is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the sweet potatoes. Cover the pan, and cook until the sweet potatoes just start to soften, stirring once, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.
  • Remove the lid from the skillet, and add the tomatoes. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and place smooth side up over the tomatoes, spooning marinade on top of each. Scatter the peanuts over the chicken, and then transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F, about 30 minutes.
  • Heat the broiler on high, then cook until the top of the chicken and the peanuts turn light golden, 1 to 2 minutes, watching closely so that it doesn’t burn. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before serving, sprinkled with the remaining cilantro.

Weekly Winner: A Curry Like No Other — at least that I’ve had!

2015/01/img_1547.jpg I don’t pretend to be an expert on Indian food, just an ardent admirer. I find that I am drawn to any dish with the word “curry” in it … whether or not curry powder is actually used. I know so many people who claim not to like Indian food or curry because they “can’t stand the smell of curry powder”. What I’ve come to learn is that “curry” is basically a dish made with a complex combination of spices (which may or may not include said curry powder) but which almost always includes some sort of chile pepper. See? Cooking and eating can be educational too!

So, regardless of your take on curry powder, if you like seriously spiced food (not spicy-hot) but a gradual, slow-building warmth as you eat, than do I have a dish for you. It’s Smoky Indonesian-Style Chicken Curry and I got this jewel from Fine Cooking Magazine. The magazine suggests serving it with rice; however since it has potatoes in it, I didn’t think that was necessary. It’s actually perfect just the way it is.  The only change I made was to use boneless, skinless thighs since the recipe called for taking the skin off anyway.

Smoky Indonesian-Style Chicken Curry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

5 dried pasilla or New Mexican chiles, stemmed and seeded

1 small shallot, quartered

2 Tbsp thinly sliced lemongrass

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 Tbsp sweet smoked paprika

1 Tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger

1 Tbsp packed dark brown sugar

1 Tbsp sambal oelek

1-1/2 tsp ground cumin

1-1/2 tsp ground coriander

Kosher salt

6 Tbsp chicken broth

8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

Freshly ground black pepper

1-1/4 lb waxy potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3-1/2 cups)

½ lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2/3 cup thawed frozen peas

Procedure:

Put the chiles in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water; set aside to soften for 20 minutes. Drain, then transfer the chiles to a blender. Add the shallot, lemongrass, tomato paste, smoked paprika, ginger, brown sugar, sambal oelek, cumin, coriander, and 2 tsp salt. Blend the mixture until smooth, drizzling the broth through the hole in the lid and stopping occasionally to scrape down the inside of the jar.

Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper and spread evenly with the chile mixture. Layer the potatoes in the bottom of a 5- to 6- quart slow cooker and arrange the chicken in an even layer on top. Cover and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender and the chicken is tender but not falling off the bone, 2 to 3 hours on high and 6 hours on low.

About 30 minutes before serving, turn the slow cooker to low and sprinkle the green beans evenly over the top, cover and cook until crisp-tender. Add the peas and cook until heated through, about 10 minutes. Stir to combine, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve.