Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala, originally uploaded by riptideredsf.
It took a couple of days to actually produce the first recipes from my new gospel that is the Cooks Illustrated Cookbook, but it was well worth the effort. I get so much pleasure from just reading it...especially the cooking tips. One of my favorites so far is about cooking with vodka. Does high end over low make a difference? They compared Grey Goose to the cheapest vodka they found. If you buy cheap vodka and filter it through your Brita 4 times it makes no difference in a cooked dish. Love it!
Chicken Tikka Masala with Basmati Rice Pilaf? so good it was dinner last night and breakfast this morning. Hell! what's not to love about spicy tomato sauce, heavy cream and big chunks of charred yogurt crusted chicken breast? Besides I just love saying "Chicken Tikka Masala!"
I could eat this 'til I'm sick and no doubt will. Another tip, (I did not come across it until after the chicken was done...sigh) is: cream based tomato sauces don't freeze well. I should try it anyway.
I begin in my comfort zone: Basmati Rice Pilaf which I did the other morning before work. I love having flavorful rices and farro around and I make large batches of  pilaf that last for a few days. I've been testing out my new Penzeys curry spices on brown basmati rice, by simply stirring the spice into onions and garlic sauteeing in hot oil, then stirring in the rice and toasting that up a bit, then pouring in hot water with vegetarian chicken seasoning then letting it all cook out. Pilafs finishing in the slow cooker are a fantastic thing to come home to in the evening. I'm ALWAYS surprised when I do this. I walk in my front door and I'm like "what the hell? Honey?" then I realize that I am my own honey.
I had an old bag of Basmati Rice Medley from Trader Joes. It's purdy. Whole spices are tossed around in a pan of hot oil ( a cinnamon stick, green cardamom pods and whole cloves) then, the rice is tossed in, stirred around a bit, covered with water (I really want to use a chicken seasoning here but refrain myself from these impulses the first time out with a recipe-especially from a source I revere) and cooked on the stovetop. 
Yesterday morning I coated 4 trimmed chicken breasts in a spice rub and left them refrigerated all day. I also made up the sauce just until the point the cream is added and left that in the fridge 'til I got home. When I got home I reheated the sauce, coated the whole chicken breasts in a thick mixture of oil, garlic, ginger and yogurt and popped them in the broiler. CI says this keeps the breasts moist. Into the tomato sauce mixture, I stirred in  the whole 8oz. carton of heavy cream (the recipe called for 2/3 c.-my only deviation from the gospel of CI-oh that, and I forgot to add the cilantro at the end and that really pisses me of since I had it in the fridge and I'm ALWAYS dumping dead cilantro) brought it just to the simmer and took it off the heat. The chicken was cut to 1" cubes then tossed into the sauce. Dish it up and bask in all of its glory.
This is really one of the best dishes I've made in the last year.
Cooks Illustrated Cookbook: 2 for 2!

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