19 March 2009

Slow-Cooked Green Chicken Masala


The Gatekeeper

Are you a Healthy Cook? Would you call yourself a “nutritional gatekeeper”? Do you have a certain Style in the kitchen? A New York Times article by Tara Parker-Pope suggests that those who buy and prepare the food in our home strongly influence the eating habits of those around them. That's good news if your nutritional gatekeeper makes healthy choices and is well-informed. If, instead, that person has weak nutritional habits and tends toward poor food choices that is also likely to bear consequences on the health and nutrition of the entire family. What an awesome responsibility we bear in the kitchen!

I also found the article’s discussion of how size and shape of serving dishes effects the amount we serve, and then eat, thought provoking. I bought new dishes several years ago when I remodeled my kitchen. I noticed that my new plates were at least an inch wider than my old plates, encouraging larger serving sizes to make the plate look full. Because of this discovery I now try to be more mindful of portion sizes and we frequently serve weeknight dinners on the slightly smaller luncheon plates from the same set of dishes.

Cooking Personality

The article also links to a quiz from “Mindless Eating” by Brian Wansink. This quiz will help you discover your own cooking personality. I took the quiz but I must confess, I found it difficult to identify my own Cooking Personality. In fact it seems that I am something of a Sybil in the kitchen. At times it might appear that I am “giving,” making nostalgic recipes, especially baked goods that I share with friends. On the "methodical" side I tend to rely heavily on recipes. And, while I do experiment with health-conscious recipes that are rich in fresh produce and herbs, suggesting that I can be a “healthy” cook, I can also be “competitive” and I definitely have a perfectionist streak that can get me into trouble.

I do hope I am at least a somewhat “innovative” cook. I like to think I am creative, though I doubt I would ever be called trend-setting. While I do use recipes I like to change them around and adapt them to the culture of my own kitchen and what I have on hand. This recipe for Green Chicken Masala is an example.

Synthesis

I first saw this dish at Eat. Drink. Think. It caught my eye because of the amazing color of the sauce and because I had just made a similar sauce that went with Cauliflower Pakoras. Most of the sauce I made for the Pakoras remained unused, probably because the serrano pepper made it very spicy.

To make this dish I used the leftover Cilantro Mint Sauce as a starting point and added onion, garlic and more spices along with the coconut milk from the Green Chicken Masala recipe at Eat. Drink. Think. The coconut milk cooled down the fire of the serrano pepper and the spices added balance and aroma to the flavor. Then I poured the sauce over chicken thighs in my slow cooker where they simmered until my family was home for dinner. The result was a synthesis of recipes and techniques that let me use ingredients I had on hand to produce a healthy and flavorful weeknight dinner.


Slow-Cooked Green Chicken Masala

1 serrano chile, stemmed
2 cups cilantro leaves
12 large fresh mint leaves
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 can coconut milk

8 - 12 chicken thighs, skin removed (boneless? even better)

To prepare the Cilantro Mint Sauce, place chile, cilantro leaves and mint leaves in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until uniform. Add water, vegetable oil, lemon juice and salt. Blend until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the onion and garlic and cook over medium heat until it begins to soften. Add the turmeric, cinnamon, cardamon and cloves. Cook for one minute. Add the Cilantro Mint Sauce and coconut milk. Continue cooking until heated through.

Place the chicken thighs in a 3 ½ - 6 quart slow cooker (mine holds 4 quarts). Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken thighs and cover. Cook on low heat for approximately 8 hours, or until the chicken thighs are tender and cooked through.

Remove chicken from the slow cooker with a slotted spoon and place on a serving platter.

Remove fat from the sauce remaining in the slow cooker. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Serve with rice.

Note:
If I am going to be at home I will place the chicken thighs in the slow cooker then cover and cook them for several hours before I make the sauce. When I am ready to make the sauce, somewhere around half-way through the cooking time, I drain the juice from the slow cooker and add the sauce ingredients to cover the chicken. This makes a thicker sauce and reduces the need to defat before serving.

8 comments:

noble pig said...

How lovely this is, slow-cooked is also the best.

Bunny said...

I'm afraid I'm not a creative cook although I'm trying very hard to remedy that. Thanks for the recipe!

Elyse said...

Eek, I don't think I could be called a nutritional gatekeeper. I love healthy recipes, but I also love unhealthy ones. Mmm, this chicken masala looks totally delicious, and, hey, nutritious!

Pam said...

I do consider myself a nutritional gatekeeper. All of my daughters have grown up with an appreciation of healthy homecooked food.

Donna-FFW said...

This sounds so delicious! What a unique take on the dish. I love all the interestng flavors!!

Grace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Grace said...

this is certainly the first green chicken i've seen, and i like it. and no, i'm not a nutritional gatekeeper. i'm more of an aid-and-abettor. :)

Bellini Valli said...

What a beautiful dish for the eyes as well as the taste buds:D