As part of my cooking spree last weekend, I wanted to try a new recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks acquired in 2008, All About Braising. This cookbook is so great, I really need to do a review of it soon. I usually think of chicken as a little boring, to be honest, but this recipe, with cilantro, ginger and mint, sounded anything but dull. If that wasn’t enticing enough, the sauce includes rum and cream (but not so much as to make you feel your arteries are clogging at each bite).
I normally wouldn’t have thought to make root vegetables with this, but Marvin requested that I cook up a big pan of them so he could eat them all week. I tried to put some exotic spices on them to liven things up, but I didn’t want to overdo it so I used a light hand and in the end I think it was too light, as I couldn’t really taste much. But hey, in my book, roasted root vegetables taste pretty good au naturel. Besides, I got lots of pretty photos out of it:
Braised Chicken with Cilantro, Ginger & Mint (adapted from All About Braising) (printer-friendly version)
Molly Stevens, the author of the original recipe, called it “Goan Chicken”, because she was inspired by an article she read about Goa, a state in India that was formerly under Portuguese rule. This was her interpretation of the fusion between European and Asian influences. Her recipe calls for heavy cream, but I think that coconut cream could be substituted with a good result. If you do open a can of coconut cream for this, you can freeze the remainder. Serve the chicken with some basmati or jasmine rice to soak up the sauce.
8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned or skin-on
1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and tender stems, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
2 tbs finely minced or microplaned ginger
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbs vegetable or olive oil
2 tbs vegetable or olive oil
1/3 cup golden or amber rum (not dark)
3/4 cup chicken stock (low-sodium if canned)
3 tbs heavy cream or coconut cream
1/2 tsp brown sugar
freshly ground white or black pepper
1 scallion, finely sliced (white and green parts)
about 1 tbs each minced cilantro and mint leaves
Directions: If chicken thighs have skin, remove the skin and any large fat deposits. Discard or save for making schmaltz. Rinse chicken with cool water and pat dry with paper towels. Place all of the marinade ingredients in a sealable plastic bag along with the chicken, smooshing it around so that the marinade coats all the pieces. Refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the bag and scrape off the herbs as best you can with a spatula, returning them to the bag. Don’t worry if some of the herbs refuse to dislodge themselves. Heat 2 tbs oil at medium-high heat in a skillet large enough to accomodate all the chicken. Sear the chicken, undisturbed, for about 4 minutes or until it gets nicely browned on the bottom. Turn with tongs and cook the other side for another 4 minutes or so. Transfer to a large plate. Pour off the excess fat from the skillet, leaving behind any browned bits.
Put the pan back on medium-high heat and add the rum, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add the reserved marinade. and boil until the rum is reduced to a tablespoon or two, about 3 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Return the chicken pieces to the pan, along with any juices on the plate. Cover, reduce heat to low, and braise gently. Check afer a few minutes; if the liquid is simmering too violently, reduce the heat further. Braise for 15 minutes and then turn the chicken over and braise for another 15 minutes.
Remove chicken from the skillet and place on a platter or serving dish; cover loosely with foil. Increase the heat to medium-high to boil and reduce the cooking liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and sugar and simmer a few more minutes, until the sauce coats the back of your spoon. Pour any accumulated juices from the platter back into the sauce, stir, and taste for salt, pepper and sugar, adding a pinch more if you feel it needs it. Spoon the sauce over the chicken pieces and garnish with the chopped mint, cilantro and scallion.