First, learn to breakdown that whole chicken. Hey, there is no excuse..there are plenty of howtos on the web on how to do that. Just go on youtube and type “breaking down a whole chicken“. They charge you the high $$ for boneless chicken, so why not doing it yourself. After all, It is easy and fun and you get all the tasty parts for yourself!
Today, I have 3 simple recipes for that chicken you just broke down (they require ingredients that are not $$$ at all)
(1)An Indian-inspired recipe. Marinate your chicken in plain yoghurt, turmeric powder, Madras curry powder (or GaramMasala) , coriander, fresh thyme,ginger. Let it rest for 4 hrs in your fridge. Do not try to over-think this recipe…we are not trying to make authentic Indian cuisine here. Just inspiring ourselves from it. Once ready to prepare, take the marinade and a bit of water and heat it in a pot. Add some chicken and let it cook for 30 mins at medium. That is it! Like many people who are passionate about food, I took advanced courses, a while back, with Indian Grandmas/Grandpas and the method is NOT as straightforward as exposed in this recipe. But the idea,here, is to get a newbie (of Indian cuisine) going (later on,revisit the recipe with its more elaborate methods ).
(2) A Mauritian-inspired recipe. Marinate the chicken in a mix of onions, garlic, chilly, red wine, tomatoes,salt, pepper, coriander, cinnamon, clove, parsley, thyme,coriander,water.Let it rest for 4hrs . Then, when ready to prepare, sauté the onion,garlic and ginger in a pot. In this instance, in order to bring an element of surprise, the ingredients were sautéed with a bit of coconut oil in place of the commonly used olive or canola oils (it is possible that this is just a mental thing…as only the palates of your hosts will be the ultimate judge ;p). Once those ingredients get a bit of color, add the chicken and cook for 2 mins. Notice that I did, prior to cooking the chicken, marinate it in a mixture of red wine, onions, garlic, chilly, red wine, tomatoes,salt, pepper, coriander, cinnamon, clove, parsley, thyme,coriander, and garlic. This is not mentioned in the official recipe,but when you cook you should always think about enhancing the flavor…as you are supposed to have fun while cooking,lol…so I did some experiments and found the marinade to add ….rather than substracting to the recipe. After 2 mins, add the cinnamon, cloves , thyme, parsley, dry chilli , pepper and wine marinade mix. Well, here, forget the powdered renditions of cloves and cinnamom and use real cloves and cinnamon….it adds more peps to your dish. When you cook, always think “peps”, “peps”, “peps”. There is no other secret. Just let the dish simmer (in the marinade) for 25 mins on medium. 20 mins before stopping the cooking, add slim pieces of potatoes and carrots to the dish. Serve it with rice. PS: The neck of a chicken is very flavorful….so fry it and add it to that dish in the last 5mins of the cooking ………you know, when ppl talk about an inspired dish…it does not take a masters in Sciences for that…just this kind of little touches. Got it??? ;p .
***Notice that I never mentioned anything about the measurements of the ingredients… The reason for that is to force you to focus on how far the quantity of an ingredient should be pushed for you to call it worthy of serving to your hosts. When I cook, I always have one thing in mind….would I enjoy what I am cooking if someone else would serve it to me? As soon as the answer is “YES”, I stop the cooking and serve it! So when I share a recipe, I expect two things: (1) that you train with moms and pops who have long mastered the flavors of the food you are tryng to pull off..because after all,you need a point of reference and like to hear this or not…that point of reference should come from those who have been doing it for so long! (2)Serve food ONLY if you would enjoy it!!!
Whatever BS the foodie/restaurant world wants to make you think, the true secret in cooking is YOUR PALATE. If you did not bother educating it, if you haven’t learned about how things should genuinely taste like..in the first place, then ..your food will taste GENERIC, SOULLESS!
As much as we may think highly of our world, we should never forget that other cultures have been cooking marvels for centuries before us. So, be curious / open-minded and the effort will be inevitably … rewarding ;p
A third recipe:
Pour 1 cup of water and a can of 141 oz of coconut milk in a pot, and marinate the chicken in that mix for 4 hours. When ready to cook, boil the mix (set the heat at medium). Add some bay leaves around the 3rd minute of the cooking. Around the 5th minute, add the chicken meat as well as a tomato that you may need to slice in half. Let it cook for 15 minutes, still on medium heat. 15 minutes later, add some peas and let the cooking continue for 5 more minutes (or till your peas have cooked, while still retaining their pop and round shape). Add some coriander, salt, and pepper towards the last 3 minutes. Stop the cooking. Serve it around 5 to 10 minutes later. Press some a fresh juicy lime on the sauce at the time of serving (naturally, the number of minutes indicated in a recipe is an approximate measuring of the time, so if you need your chicken to cook a bit longer, do so).
IN THE NEXT episode of the “Let us practise” series, I will be back with a Portuguese-inspired recipe from Chef Helena Loureiro, simple and yet so eye-opening as well as a a more complex Haitian chicken sauce recipe. The Haitian recipe is what excites me the most, though, because it hits on the nerves of those who think that too much flavor is confusion. Well, that is true ONLY if IT WAS NOT DONE THE RIGHT WAY!!!! AS EVER, I think of recipes as an opportunity to deepen our understanding of JOYOUS flavor combination ;p, so join in and let our food tastes DELICIOUS!
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, we are ALL lucky to have relatives, sometimes close friends who are true great cooks cooking food that is surprisingly far superior to what is found at most restaurants. SO, an upcoming series untitled ”’IT IS …TO BE HONEST …BETTER COOKED… AT HOME‘ will surface soon on this blog with the participation of friends and relatives whose food has impressed me much more than anywhere else. STAY TUNED!