Thursday, March 31, 2011

Tandoori Chicken

You've probably figured out that in many ways, we're not "typical American eaters." Usually our plates are piled with some mixture of vegetables and grains, eggs and cheese, in the form of an omelette or sandwich or stew or casserole. Meat shows up rarely on our menu - once every week or two, and usually more like a "garnish" than as the main part of our meal. We get all of our meat from Curtis', our small-town butcher who sources humanely-raised chicken, locally farmed pork and raises their own cows from start to finish on grass pastures. The meat is fantastic and, because it's not turned out cheaply, factory-style, it's of course more expensive than its oddly-colored, antibiotic-laden grocery store counterpart. Which makes sense - meat should be the most expensive part of a meal, because it "costs" the most, in terms of resources, to produce. As a small farmer, I could grow a little field of grain and feed my family for the winter with my harvest. Or I could grow a small field of grain and feed one cow. Meat is expensive to produce, so it should be expensive to buy. We take this as a hint that maybe we shouldn't be eating so much of it, either.

Now, don't misunderstand me here - I am not suggesting a vegan diet for everyone, or even a vegetarian diet. I love me some meat, and I literally don't think I could live without cottage cheese. But I am suggesting that everyone look at their diet as a hierarchy - fill it up mostly with foods that are resource-cheap like grains and beans and local veggies and fruit, and then add in a little bit of the resource-expensive stuff.

That being said, here's a meal that flies in the face of that philosophy, and follows a very traditional "meat and two sides" formula. Because sometimes it's cool to break the rules.

Tandoori Chicken with kale and couscous
Serves 4
By going heavier on the couscous and kale, using just a little bit of chicken on top, and maybe throwing in some lentils or roasted chickpeas, you could easily make this into a "cheap" meal. 
Make sure to pour any extra sauce from the chicken pan over the couscous. It's amazing. 

1/4 tsp ginger
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp curry powder
3 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 tsp salt
sprinkle cinnamon
sprinkle cayenne pepper

4-6 bone-in chicken thighs, skins removed

1 bunch kale
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
lemon juice
olive oil

2 cups couscous

Yogurt Sauce
This would be nice with diced cucumber (like a tsatziki) or mint (like a raita). I had neither. Still great. 
1 cup plain yogurt
3 cloves minced garlic
2 Tbsp lemon juice
salt to taste

Whisk the sauce ingredients together, and rub them onto the chicken thighs, both sides.
Put the thighs in a baking dish, top with the leftover sauce, and bake at 400 for about 35 minutes, until 170 internally.
Take out and rest, covered with a dishtowel or tin foil.

In the meantime, cook the couscous - boil 3 cups of water, stir in couscous, cover and remove from heat. Let sit 5 minutes.

Saute kale and garlic in a little olive oil until tender, and then squeeze a little lemon juice over it.

Whisk yogurt sauce ingredients together.

Top couscous with chicken and extra pan juice, plop the kale on the side, and drizzle yogurt sauce over all. 

Miles really enjoyed this all mixed together - chopped kale and couscous, pieces of chicken and lots of yogurt sauce all squashed into a delightful little pile of awesome.

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