Indian at home: Chicken Vindaloo

Indian at home.
Indian at home.

Sadly, our town is lacking in good Indian cuisine. Which means, this fall J and I have decided to figure out how to make it at home. We’ll tackle naan soon, especially since we discovered how easy the main dishes can be. We tried Chicken Vindaloo from our new favorite site rasamalaysia.com. The directions were easy to follow, easier than finding all the ingredients! With a few modifications, we had a meal that rivaled any local Indian restaurant.

Ingredients:
1 whole chicken, cut up into 8 pieces and skin removed (We used about 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts because that’s what we had on hand)
1 onion, chopped (we used a large yellow onion)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 tsp each Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons oil (we used olive)

Spice Blend:
1/2 cup vinegar (white)
4-5 dried red Chile peppers (we used dried, whole red chilis)
4 cloves (we used ground)
8 garlic cloves, skin removed (we used minced about 2 tablespoons)
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 teaspoon paprika powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:
Add vinegar and soak all the ingredients needed for the spice blend for 15-20 minutes. Then blend these into a fine paste using a blender. (we used the food processor and with the added vinegar, this turned very runny. Next time, we’ll remove the spices from the vinegar and then re-add it at the end). Add the spice mixture paste to the chicken and toss well to evenly coat all the chicken pieces. Let the chicken marinate for 4 to 6 hours. In a large wok heat the oil on medium heat. Add the marinated chicken and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Stirring often. Add the chopped onions, tomato paste, salt and pepper to the chicken. Give everything a good stir. Finally add 1/2 cup of water (we omitted this step since it was already pretty runny), cover the lid of the skillet and lower the heat to low. Let the chicken simmer on low for 15 to 20 minutes or till well done and the oil start to ooze from the curry. If you prefer little thinner gravy add water as need and let it simmer for another 4 to 5 minutes before serving. Like the original author, we prefer the gravy to be thick and sticking to the meat pieces. Serve immediately over basmati rice.

My Opinion:
The sauce was a little runny for our tastes and it wasn’t quite as spicy as we like our vindaloo. Next time, we’ll use the spice blend as a run without the vinegar and add it at the end.

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Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon


If you’ve seen Julie and Julia, then you know Beef Bourguignon can be so much more than just Beef Bourguignon. I can assure you, this dish is worth it. It is not a weeknight dish. It is not a leave it on the stove and forget it dish, but it is unfathomably delicious. Make this on a rainy day weekend, it is perfect for fall. Since I’m not lucky enough to have the Julia Child cookbook, My sister adapted this recipe from ABC’s Good Morning America. She’s the one who slaved over the stove for several hours and deserves all the credit.

Ingredients:
One 6-ounce piece of chunk bacon (since no local grocer carries  this, we just used regular thick cut bacon)
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds lean stewing beef, cut into 2-inch cubes  (or go with the already cut stew meat from your favorite butcher)
1 carrot, sliced (we used a mandolin at 1/4 setting)
1 onion, sliced (we used a mandolin at 1/4 setting)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
3 cups red wine, young and full-bodied (like Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Burgundy. HyVee, our go to wine retailer was out of these, so we went with their recommendation, which was a Bordeaux)
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups brown beef stock (we used the box variety)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/2 teaspoon thyme
A crumbled bay leaf
18 to 24 white onions, small (the pearl onions worked fine for us)
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
Herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)
1 pound mushrooms, fresh and quartered (we cheated and used pre-sliced button mushrooms)
1 pound (bag) of egg noodles
Directions: Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long).Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Since we were using bacon we skipped the steps above and went right to sauteeing the bacon in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly (we used a cast iron skillet). Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat. Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust). Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees (this is when we moved everything to a casserole dish, seems our casserole pan is only oven safe to 400 degrees). Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan (We just used a mesh strainer). Wash out the casserole (we skipped this to leave all the delicious crusty bits) and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for a minute or 2, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

My opinion:
Over egg noodles this dish is just divine. There are no additional words to describe it.