Sunday, March 20, 2016

Murgh Makhani

Murgh Makhani sounds like someone's might be.....but, trust me, it's an incredibly flavorful chicken dish. I came across the dish in a book I was reading.  Just the name intrigued me, so I started doing some research on how to create this dish.

Murgh Makhani, often referred to as Butter Chicken or Indian Butter Chicken is a dish popular in Northern India. According to Wikipedia, “The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to a man named Kundan Lal Gujral, who ran a restaurant called Moti Mahal Delux in Peshawar before the partition of British India. With the partition of British India, Moti Mahal moved to New Delhi. Butter Chicken is regarded to have been first introduced by Moti Mahal in New Delhi”.

The dish can be made with yogurt and chickpea flour.  I found recipes that included fenugreek, cardamom and crushed almonds.  There are very involved recipes that include 3 different marinades and several different cooking methods.

My goal in creating recipes is to make them approachable, with readily available ingredients.  Though, I understand that Garam Masala is probably not a spice blend you have in your spice cabinet, I believe it is worth investing in. You can use Garam Masala on chicken, pork and beef.

So I think I was able to create an easy and simple approach to Murgh Makhani.  And, though, it obviously isn't authentic, it is aromatic, rich and full of flavor. 
Please let me know what you think.

Murgh Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite size chunks
1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 ½ teaspoon Garam Masala*
½” piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce, or to taste (or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper)
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ cup tomato sauce
1 cup heavy cream**
Salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
Lime to garnish
Cilantro to garnish

In a sauté pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium high heat.  Add chicken and sauté for 7 – 8 minutes, stirring often, until the pink is gone.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

In same pan, melt another 2 tablespoons of butter.  Add the onion and saute for 4 – 5 minutes, until just it just begins to soften.  Add garlic, Garam Masala, ginger, Sriracha sauce (or cayenne pepper), chili powder, cumin and cinnamon.  Stirring constantly, cook for 1 minute and then add tomato sauce.

Bring the mixture to a simmer, reduce heat and cook for 5 minutes.  Add cream and chicken, bring back to a simmer and cook for another 25 to 30 minutes on a low simmer, adding more liquid if necessary.  Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons butter stirring to melt.

Serve over cooked, white rice, Garnish with a squeeze of lime, lime slices and chopped cilantro.

Serve with Naan or Fry bread.

Serves 2

Fry Bread
*Garam Masala is a blend of ground spices used extensively in Indian cuisine. Garam means hot, not so much as spicy, but as in warming the body and Masala means a mixture of spices.  There's no single Garam Masala recipe as the ingredients differ according to region as well as each chef's individual preferences. But for the most part, Garam Masala will include coriander, cumin, cardamom, cloves, black pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Look for Garam Masala as a spice mix in the spice aisle.

**Because you are simmering the mixture, you need to use a dairy product with a high fat content.  If you use anything other than heavy cream, you may curdle the sauce.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Hoby's Chicken Spaghetti

I moved to The Mississippi Gulf Coast a few years back....I can now say y'all with the best of 'em! Overall, it's been quite an adventure!

I have found that some things are different....things move more slowly here, winter barely exists and flowers bloom almost all year round.  But, that's about it!  People love their mommas, puppies are cuddled and the talk of food is always an interesting conversation!

Up north, we had Friday Night Fish, any night is a fish fry!  But, there are certain days for certain meals (or at least, this is how I perceive it). For instance, on Mondays you can find Red Beans and Rice and on Thursdays, it's Chicken Spaghetti.

Until I moved to the South, I had not heard of Chicken Spaghetti.  But, as seems to happen often in The Universe, once I noticed Chicken Spaghetti here in the South, I started noticing it in other places, including in a Facebook post by a grade school friend.  Hoby posted about making his "World Famous" Chicken Spaghetti....well, that piqued my interest, so I asked for specifics.  He offered up his recipe and was kind enough to let me adapt his recipe and recreate it for Sylvia's world.

I won't say it is as "World Famous" as his, but here is my version of Chicken Spaghetti....

Hoby’s Chicken Spaghetti
          adapted by Sylvia Waldsmith
2 large boneless and skinless chicken breasts
4 cups chicken broth
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
8 ounces spaghetti, broken in half
¼ cup butter
½ cup chopped green pepper
½ cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
6 ounces sliced white or crimini mushrooms
4 ounces Velveeta Cheese, cubed
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 small can (approx. 10 ounces) diced tomatoes with green chilies (hot or regular)

In a large pot, place chicken breasts in chicken broth and add pepper, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover pan and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle.  Remove chicken to a plate to cool.

Skim or strain chicken broth to remove any foam or fat from the surface.  Bring back to a boil and add spaghetti.   Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender.  DO NOT DRAIN.

While cooking spaghetti, melt butter in sauté pan and add peppers, celery, onion and mushrooms and cook over medium heat until onion is soft.  Set aside.

Shred the chicken breasts with two forks and set aside.

Add cubed Velveeta and Cheddar cheeses to spaghetti and chicken broth and stir until melted.  Add sautéed mixture, diced tomatoes and chicken and stir until thoroughly combined.  You can serve the Chicken Spaghetti at this time.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees, lightly grease a 13” x 9” baking dish.  Place combined chicken mixture into dish and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring once halfway thru cooking time.  Baking the dish helps reduce the moisture level and combine the flavors.

Serve sprinkled with shredded cheese (I used an Italian Blend) and sliced scallions.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Baked Corned Beef

I've always LOVED Corned Beef!  Growing up, it was an easy and cheap meal in my family home.  The meat and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, onions and celery) were inexpensive! You could feed a family of 6 for very little money and no one went away hungry.

My mom boiled the meat, as did everyone else I knew. Boiled was how I knew Corned Beef.  It was good, but usually a little bland and lacked any real color. Way too often, it ended up tough. But, we ate it anyway, because mom had put in the effort, added some love and created dinner. We were thankful to be together and enjoying a home cooked meal around the dinner table.

Fast forward....St. Patrick's Day dinner at a friend's restaurant and the most incredible Corned Beef I had ever eaten! It was tender and a beautiful deep, almost ruby red. The meat was full of flavor and seemed to melt in my mouth. His secret? Low heat and slow roasting. I was hooked!

Over the years I came up with several baked Corned Beef recipes, but this one, at least for the time being, is my favorite! It's easy! It's full of flavor! It will satisfy the Corned Beef craving that hits around St. Patrick's Day!  

One more thing....I, once again, forgot to take a picture of the Corned Beef, BEFORE I served it! I was so excited to dig in, that taking a photograph of the completed meal was the furthest thing from my mind! So, please excuse my lack of photos....

Baked Corned Beef

4 – 5 pound corned beef (flat cut)*
1 large onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
12 ounces cola (any brand)
1 cup orange juice
¼ cup Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup honey
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons minced garlic

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Line a large baking pan or Dutch oven with aluminum foil.

Place corned beef on foil (set aside the little seasoning packet**), fat side up and place onion slices over the top.  In a small bowl, mix together cola, juice, Worcestershire Sauce and cinnamon.  Pour around corned beef.  Completely seal foil around pan.  Bake for 6 – 7 hours or until fork tender.

Near end of baking time, in a small sauce pan, mix together brown sugar, honey, mustard, chili powder and garlic.  Heat over low heat until sugar is melted.

Remove brisket, raise oven temperature to 400 degrees, open foil and baste brisket with sugar/honey mixture, do not recover.

Return to oven and bake for another half hour, basting once more during that time.

Remove to platter, cover with foil and let rest for 15 to 20 minutes before slicing.  Cut the corned beef against the grain into ½ inch slices.

*I choose the flat cut over the point cut, because I find it less fatty.  I think it is a better cut for corned beef.  I use the point for braised brisket because it shreds more easily.

**Now, what to do with that seasoning packet….if you are boiling cabbage, carrots and potatoes, place the seasoning packet in the liquid you use for preparing the vegetables.