After Hungry Bear made her Hawaiian marinated chicken last week, we still had three pounds of unused chicken thighs. I needed to figure out what to make with them before they went into the freezer, where they would be forgotten. We are really bad with frozen meat and don't plan ahead enough to thaw it out.
I had a craving for green chili chicken stew, but couldn't find a recipe to my liking. Hungry Bear loves sweet potatoes, so I made braised chicken curry with yams, which is based on a Ming Tsai recipe. I've been tweaking this curry over the years. The dish calls for orange-flesh sweet potatoes, a.k.a. garnet yams.
The biggest changes to the original recipe are the omission of the banana and adjustments to the curry powder. I think there is enough sweetness from the yams, so there's no need for the banana. I've also adjusted the amount of chicken stock and added peas for some color.
The key ingredient is the curry powder. Ming recommends this Madras curry powder, but I'm not a fan of this brand or other brands found in most supermarkets. They're not bad, but I prefer a hot curry powder mix that we picked up at Bombay Bazar, a local Indian market. My issue with the Madras curry powder may also stem from the quantity used in Ming's recipe, 1/3 cup or 5 tablespoons. That's way too much. And it doesn't have any heat. Okay, my definition of heat is a
little lot skewed.
The modified braised chicken curry recipe is finally dialed into our tastes. It's easy to make and it's one-pot cooking. There's a nice balance of heat and sweet from the yams and peas. Served over rice, it's a very filling and satisfying dish. If you leave the sweet potatoes a little firm, they'll retain their shape and the curry will look nice and pretty. On the flip side, if you cook the yams a little longer, they'll get mushy and thicken the sauce. Either way, it's a great curry to try out.
Braised Chicken Curry with Yams Recipe
SND Note: Bone-in, skinless chicken thighs can also be used for additional flavor. Braise the chicken thighs for 1 hour instead of 30 minutes. If you don't have access to a hot Indian curry powder, replace it with Madras curry powder and 1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper.
2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 tablespoons hot Indian curry powder
2 curry leaves or bay leaves
3-4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
3 large yams, peeled and chopped into 3/4 inch cubes
2 cups frozen petite peas
1) Sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken. Heat oil in large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the chicken pieces and brown them well on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Don't skimp on this step; not only does it add color and flavor, it renders fat.
2) Remove the chicken and pour off excess fat, leaving enough to coat the pot. Add onions, garlic and ginger and sauté until soft, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken stock and bay leaves. Scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen any browned bits.
3) Add chicken thighs and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until chicken is tender and pulls apart easily, about 30 minutes. Correct the seasonings to taste. Add yams and additional stock if necessary to just cover yams; cook through, about 20-30 minutes depending on their size. Add peas and heat through, about 1-2 minutes. Serve over jasmine or basmati rice.
Makes 6 servings
[Adapted from Blue Ginger: East Meets West Cooking with Ming Tsai]
[tags]curry, chicken, braised, yams, sweet potatoes, potatoes, peas, thighs, asian, fusion[/tags]