Friday, 5 February 2016

Rendang Chicken

This is my first proper curry from scratch.  I spent my Saturday evening making the curry paste, frying it in the pan, watching it reduce with the coconut milk and then leaving it to stew for two hours, stirring every now and then. And that was one of the best Saturday evenings I've had in a while.
My boyfriend encourages me to go to the gym to relieve stress, clear my head, get some endorphins pumping.  But gyms make me cringe.  It's a claustrophobic space that only breeds degradation and self-loathing.  My happy place is in the kitchen cooking.  I like looking through recipes and shopping for ingredients from my butcher and greengrocer.  I like the simple act of chopping onions and grounding spices.  And I find the actual process of cooking it all just wonderfully mesmerising, how through the simple combination of a few ingredients and chemistry and magic that the ingredients can release all sorts of aromas and flavors that weren't present before.  I like then finishing it off, and making it pleasing to the eye.  Cooking's what lowers my blood pressure and triggers all the positive hormones.

This was from Saveur, one of my most trusted sources for recipes.

Recipe from Saveur
Serves 6-8

1 (3-4-lb.) chicken, cut into 8 pieces by your butcher
5 dried chiles de arbol, stemmed and roughly chopped
3 shallots, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, interior layers finely chopped
1 (3″-piece) ginger, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1 (2″-piece) fresh or frozen turmeric, peeled and thinly sliced, or 1 tbsp. ground turmeric
3 tbsp. peanut oil
6 cardamom pods, cracked open
6 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
4 whole star anise
2 sticks cinnamon
2 1⁄2 cups coconut milk
1 tsp. sugar
salt to taste

Cut chicken: Cut each breast crosswise into 3 pieces, and halve each thigh, drumstick, and wing piece, discarding wing tips, to produce 18 pieces total; set aside. Combine chiles, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, and 1⁄4 cup water in a small food processor, and process until a smooth paste forms; set spice paste aside. 

Heat oil in a 12″ nonstick skillet over medium heat; add cardamom, lime leaves, star anise, and cinnamon, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add spice paste, and cook, stirring often, until caramelized and the oil begins to separate from the paste, 8-10 minutes. Add coconut milk, sugar, and salt, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, until reduced by a third, about 20 minutes. 
Add chicken, stirring to coat in sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is the consistency of thick pea soup, about 1 1⁄2-2 hours. 

Continue to cook, stirring constantly to prevent sauce and chicken from burning, until sauce and chicken turn a dark caramel color and the sauce coats the chicken, about 20 minutes. Discard whole spices before serving.

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