Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Butter Chicken

I fell in love with butter chicken the first time I had it.  There's something about the flavor of the rich savory sauce that just makes me keep coming back for it.  A flavor I thought would be impossible to match if I dared to try and make this dish on my own.  So I always make a point to order it when I see it on a menu... which is to say, not that often.  When I came across this recipe from Top Chef winner Floyd Cardoz I decided to give it a whirl.  As big Top Chef fans, we saw Floyd compete during his season and I knew a recipe from him would be as good as I was going to get when it comes to butter chicken. Though a bit time consuming, it was well worth the effort and I was surprised that this ended up every bit as good as the butter chicken I've ordered out at restaurants.  Or at least, close enough.  We cut the recipe in half.


For the chicken:
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 small jalapeno chili, seeded and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola)
  •  1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  •  1 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala (we substituted with berbere spice blend)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cups yogurt
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs  

For sauce
  • 1 (28 oz.) cans roasted tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoons fresh minced ginger
  • 1 small jalapeno chili, seeded and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3-1/2 cup heavy cream, to taste

Start by marinating the chicken several hours before you plan to make this dish.  In a food processor, combine garlic, ginger, chili, lime juice, oil, salt, and spices. Process until a rough paste forms, then add yogurt and process until smooth. Transfer to a large zip lock bag or leak-proof container and add chicken. Marinate 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.

To cook the chicken, set broiler rack about 4 inches from heat source and preheat broiler to high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove chicken from zipper lock bag and wipe off the excess marinade with your hands. 
Lay it out in a single layer on baking sheet and broil until color darkens and some dark blisters form, about 5 minutes. Flip chicken, rotate sheet pan, and broil until color darkens on other side, about 5 minutes. 
Our chicken was so thin it was definitely cooked at this point, but to be safe you can use a thermometer to ensure your chicken reaches 170°F.  There should be some charring on the edges of the chicken.  Set aside to rest, and chop into bite sized pieces after it has cooled. (Try not to eat it all before it even makes it into the sauce!)
Meanwhile, begin making the sauce.  In a medium-large heavy pot, combine tomatoes, water, onion, garlic, ginger, chili, butter, cinnamon, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and cook uncovered at a hard simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens, about 30 minutes.  

Blend the mixture with an immersion blender, or by transferring it to an actual blender in 2 batches.  Keep the sauce over low heat.  Once it is smooth, add the honey, fenugreek, black pepper, and heavy cream.  Stir to combine.  (Note: Floyd strains his sauce so it's completely lump free, but we decided to skip that step)

Season with salt to taste, and add the chopped chicken.  Once it has heated through, serve hot over rice.  

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