February 21, 2010

Butter Chicken


My husband and I are huge fans of Indian food.   I mainly lean more towards curry dishes the majority of the time but we both really love Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani).  My friend, Asad wished me luck in making this dish as his mother has been trying to make it for years and it hasn't come out right.   I'm sure our levels of approval to what it SHOULD taste like are very different.   In our opinion, we came pretty close to the same flavor as our favorite Indian restaurant, Cafe Iravat.  So that it what we used as a comparison to how it should taste.  I was so excited that it turned out to taste so good.   Sorry, I couldn't share with Asad because we pigged out and ate all of it.  Maybe next time.  It was very simple and delicious!!  We also stopped by the Spice Rack market around the corner from our house on the way home to pick up Naan to go along with our meal.  They make it fresh while you wait.  Wow!!!  We also got a serving of their butter chicken to try it out.  We snacked on that while I had everything simmering.  Their version was really spicy but very flavorful.   Maybe everyone's idea of Butter Chicken is different.  But now that I have my own I'm sure I'll be making it often. 

2 lbs chicken thighs, fat trimmed off
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (**If you want it spicy, you may use 1 tsp or more.)
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cardamom
Juice of 1 whole lime

1 onion, diced
1 c butter
1 can (14.5 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 c half and half
basmati rice or naan

Combine first 9 ingredients and marinate covered overnight. 

Saute the onion in the butter until soft in a dutch oven.  Add marinated chicken and cook to brown on all sides.  Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.  Simmer  covered for at least 30 minutes over medium-low heat.  I think the longer you simmer the better it will be as all the flavors have time to marry and become better and better.  I simmered for 30 minutes stirred and then simmered another 20 minutes.  Add the half and half just before serving. Serve over basmati rice or scoop up with naan.   Enjoy!

February 20, 2010

Best Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I'm in love with my crockpot.  Most of you already know this from hearing my tales full of excitement of what I've already made and what I'm planning to throw together for next time. I've tried various recipes for beef stew.   Quick recipes, slow cooker, healthy, not so healthy... I found the best one by far in my opinion.  I prepped all the veggies the night before and cut them up and put in the fridge in a sealed container.   The next morning before work I finished prepping the meat and added everything to the slow cooker.  It took about 10-15 minutes to get everything into the crockpot.   I smelled of seared meat all day so next time I'll brown the meat the previous night as well. 

6 medium red potatoes, quartered
4 medium carrots, sliced into 1-inch pieces
3 medium onions, quartered
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 c all purpose flour
2-3 lbs beef chuck, fat trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
2 c beef broth
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 c frozen petite peas, defrosted
1 c frozen corn, defrosted

Combine the potatoes, carrots, onions, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in the insert of a 5-7 quart slow cooker and toss the veggies to distribute seasonings.

Add 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper and the flour to a large plastic bag and stir to combine.  Add the meat to the flour, toss to coat and shake off any excess flour. 

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.  Add the meat and brown on all sides.  Transfer the browned meat to the slow cooker insert. 

Deglaze the skillet with the broth and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Tranfer the contents of the skillet to the slow-cooker insert.  Then add the thyme.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, until meat is tender. 

Add the peas and corn and cook for an additional hour.  Season with salt and pepper before serving.  We served with sliced french bread and butter.  Serves 8.