Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Indian Butter Chicken in the Crockpot

Not too long ago I finished Jay Mcinerney's A Hedonist in the Cellar which is a wild ride through the best of his articles for House and Garden. He spends a lot of time talking about wine no ordinary person is going to have the opportunity to get within 1000 feet of. The rest of the time he obsesses about wine and food pairings. As a lover of Indian cooking I was especially intrigued by his going on at great length about the perfection that is pairing a great spicy curry dish with Alsatian Gewürztraminer Seemed just crazy enough to give a try.

Unfortunately an Alsatian Gewürztraminer is about as affordable as a sports car and I wasn't about to spend that much on a bottle of wine I knew nothing about. So I left the comfort of the semi-upscale wine store I work in to go to a local warehouse wine store and browse the random Gewurztraminers of the world. Oddly enough they didn't have any German Gewürztraminers in the entire store but had two at a reasonable price from South Africa of all places. I don't remember the name of the wine we bought that night because it was utterly unremarkable and didn't do anything for the curry we made that night.

So I gave up in the Gewürztraminer/curry pairing that I was so excited about until the most recent meeting of Wasted, the wine tasting group I'm involved in. The theme was women wine makers and earlier in the week I happened to be at work shelving a Gewürztraminer from Oregon made by Joy Anderson, it was organic and $11 so I was sold. It was awesome, sweet but not cloyingly so with nice undertones of cinnamon and cloves that really opened up the palate. It got a lot of ohs and ahs which is always rewarding. Since then the fella and I have been obsessed. We've bought the Snoqualme Naked Gewürztraminer no less than three times and it never gets old.

Then today the stars aligned. In our house Tuesday is crockpot day since neither one of us are home to cook, we let the crockpot do the work. The fella threw together Indian butter chicken this morning and by the time I got home between jobs this afternoon the house smelled divine. Curry powder and chicken and all sorts of yum were lingering in the air.

Even without rice, this chicken might be the best thing we've made in the crockpot. The chicken thighs fell apart under my fork, super tender and juicy. The sauce was creamy and rich with butter, coconut milk and spices. Then I opened the refrigerator and was surprised to see an open bottle of the Naked Gewürztraminer from the other night that I had totally forgotten about. It was time to test the Gewürztraminer/curry pairing again.

This time it worked, both the chicken and the wine are outstanding alone but together they literally made me drool. The curry matched perfectly with the herbal notes of the wine and they both opened up on the palate to do wonderful things that even I don't have the wine vocabulary to describe. You'll just have to try it yourself.

Now I know what Mcinerney was talking about. It just took the right curry and the right wine to make it happen. I don't think the Naked Gewürztraminer would pair with every curry but with this thick saucy chicken it was magic that made me even more obsessed with this wine. And the chicken curry is super easy, all the ingredients get tossed in and you walk away. The most difficult part is making a satchel for the cardamom pods which is way simpler than the original recipe which wanted you to sew them together. That wins for craziest set of cooking instructions ever, sewing does not belong in the kitchen. Nonetheless I still adore the A Year of Crockpotting blog, insanity and all.

Indian Butter Chicken in the Crockpot

15 cardamom pods wrapped in cheese cloth or a tea bag
2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 onion, sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tsp garam masala
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 can light coconut milk
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt

Use a 5 quart or larger crockpot.

Tie cardamom pods in a cheese cloth bundle. Put chicken in crockpot, and add onion, garlic, and all of the dry spices. Plop in the butter and tomato paste. Add lemon juice and coconut milk. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4. The chicken should shred easily with 2 forks when fully cooked.

Stir in plain yogurt 15 minutes before serving. Discard cardamom pods. Salt to taste if needed.

Original recipe from A Year of Crockpotting.


Crockpot Lady said...

lol on the sewing! I'm so glad you liked your dinner.

Sara said...

Aaaaaaand ANOTHER thing gets added to the "must make this" list.