Friday’s Hot Tip: Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

Confession: I tend to make the same dishes over and over again, especially in my slow cooker. It’s usually chili, a bean dish, or I’m cooking dried beans so I can freeze them for later use.

While I have a slow cooker cookbook full of some very tasty recipes, I’d seen several recipes online for Indian dishes. Where I grew up I became friends with a lot of Indian kids, so I’d go to parties and other gatherings where the tables were covered in all different kinds of curry, dahl and other dishes full of potatoes, cream, meat, vegetables. Years ago, Momcat and I appealed to one Indian friend’s mom for a small quantity of her family’s special curry powder blend, because store-bought curry powder just doesn’t cut it.

A few weeks ago we were due for a big storm in NorCal, and I decided the cold, wet weather made it the perfect time to try one of the Indian slow cooker entrees. I looked at a couple recipes for chicken tikka masala to get ideas for ingredients, and came up with a chicken curry that turned out rich and flavorful, just like the curries at my friends’ houses back in the day.

Slow Cooker Chicken Curry

  • 1 ½ lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized chunks
  • 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt (optional marinade)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • ⅔ C yellow onion, diced
  • ⅔ C red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 2 T curry powder, divided
  • 1 t brown sugar
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)
  • 6 ounces plain Greek yogurt

Optional: The night before you make the curry, coat the chicken pieces in 6 ounces of plain Greek yogurt – I used a large Ziploc bag – and refrigerate overnight. This yogurt marinade makes the chicken extra moist and flavorful.

Put chicken and tomatoes in slow cooker. Saute onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste and 1 tablespoon curry powder in a small amount of vegetable oil until soft, then add to slow cooker and mix well with chicken and tomatoes. Add remaining 1 tablespoon curry powder, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt, stirring to combine. Cover and set cooker to High for 4 hours, or Low for 7-8 hours.

Before serving, add yogurt to curry. If you’re not serving the entire batch in one sitting, you may want to add the yogurt to individual servings. (I put a large spoonful of curry in a metal bowl, then mixed in about ¼ cup of yogurt.)

Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro and serve over basmati or jasmine rice.

Variations

  • Use only yellow onion.
  • Use ¾ C heavy cream instead of yogurt prior to serving. You can do this about 15 minutes before it’s done cooking.
  • To make this more tikka masala style, use garam masala instead of curry powder.
chicken curry, curry, Indian food, East Indian, cooking, slow cooker, Crockpot, chicken

Slow cooker chicken curry over jasmine rice.

 

Friday’s Hot Tip: What’s Cookin’? Chicken with Potatoes & Green Beans

Yep, this is another one-pot dish – we’ve already discussed how I feel about one-pot cooking. This is a recipe I saw on the label of a Swanson’s chicken broth container & I decided to make it for my Christmas dinner. I modified the dish by using a mix of small red, white and blue potatoes – it made the dish much more fun to look at with all the color. I also added a shallot because I’ve recently discovered just how very cool shallots are. It’s a baby red onion, all cute and wrapped up in pale brown onion skin! How can you not love them?

The name of this recipe suggests it’s only for eating in the fall months, which is rather limiting and I hate feeling limited. If you want a good meal and you’ve got chicken breasts and green beans in the freezer and a few potatoes in the pantry, plus a can of chicken broth or some bouillon cubes, you’re good to go.

Golden Chicken & Autumn Vegetables

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (4-6 tenderloins work fine too)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen whole green beans
  • Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook for 10 minutes or until well browned on both sides. Remove the chicken from the skillet.
  • Stir the stock, garlic, shallot, rosemary, thyme, black pepper, potatoes and green beans in the skillet and heat to a boil.  Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low.  Return the chicken to the skillet. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are tender.

RECIPE TIPS

  • Flavor Variation: for Herbed Chicken Dijon with Wine, add 1/4 cup white wine, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard with the stock.
  • Substitute mixed red, blue and yellow potatoes for sweet potatoes.
  • If you like your green beans crisp and bright, do not add them to the pot until the last 10 minutes.

Friday’s Hot Tip: What’s Cookin’? Chicken with Quinoa & Veggies

When it comes to cooking for myself, I go through phases:

  • Phase 1: buying items that allow me to assemble quick, easy meals
  • Phase 2: having zero interest in making anything that involves a pot, pan or a spatula
  • Phase 3: getting bored with everything I have been making during Phase 1 so seeking out new recipes and experimenting

I’m currently in Phase 3, which can lend itself to some pretty tasty dishes…or some culinary horror stories. Fortunately last week’s experiment turned out very well, and I’m posting the recipe here so you can try it for yourself. I’m a big fan of one-pot cooking, and I eat a lot of chicken at home, so this is my variation on a one-pot chicken recipe I found on Real Simple‘s website.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is an itty-bitty grain first harvested by Native Americans. It’s got loads of protein and can be served for breakfast (the texture is similar to oatmeal and you can make it sweet or savoury) or as a side dish with vegetables for lunch or dinner. It can be cooked like rice, so it’s very easy to substitute quinoa in entrees calling for rice. Plus you get the fun of saying quinoa.

Chicken with Quinoa, Mushrooms, Peppers & Spinach

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil or canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 C mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 C mixed bell peppers, chopped (I use frozen mixed but fresh red bell pepper would be great here)
  • 1/4 t basil, dried
  • 2 C vegetable broth
  • 1 C uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2 C baby spinach, washed, stems removed
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add chicken and saute until golden, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to plate.

Add mushrooms to skillet and saute until browned, about 3-4 minutes (Note: you may want to add more oil or a little water to keep the mushrooms from burning; I added water). Add peppers, garlic and basil. Cook until peppers have softened, about 3 minutes.

Add broth and quinoa, stirring gently to mix with vegetables. Increase heat to medium-high and allow broth to come to a slow boil. Return chicken to pan, spacing pieces evenly. Lower heat and cover pan. Simmer for 12-15 minutes or until quinoa has cooked through and broth has been absorbed. Season with pepper.

Remove lid, turn off heat and add spinach, tearing up larger leaves. Season with salt, then stir spinach into quinoa and chicken mixture, allowing heat from the dish to wilt the spinach.

Serves 2-4.

Got any quinoa recipes to share? Tell me in the comments!

Friday’s Hot Tip: What’s Cookin’?

I like it when I can cook a really tasty meal using only one pot or pan. Being a fan of pasta and rice dishes makes one-pot cooking next to impossible at times. I’m not particularly inventive, either.

But one night a couple months ago I was looking at my canister of bulgur wheat, a whole grain that doesn’t have much personality on its own. Momcat would cook it as cereal occasionally, and with some milk and honey or maple syrup, it’s not too bad. As a side dish, though, it needs some love. I gotta do something with this stuff, I thought, as I stared at the container. So I started poking through the pantry and the fridge…and came up with this really tasty dish. I don’t have a name for it; if you think of one, put it in the comments.

1-1 1/2 T olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/4 t salt
2 C chicken breast, uncooked, cut into bite size pieces
2 C chicken broth
1 T lemon juice
1 C bulgur wheat, uncooked
no-salt seasoning (Mrs. Dash or equivalent)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Lower the heat, allowing the onion to reduce and the garlic to soften. After the onion has become more translucent, add the chicken and saute – increase the heat to medium, stirring the mixture frequently. Once the chicken is no longer pink, add the broth, lemon juice, and no-salt seasoning, then the bulgur wheat. Stir well, then cover and reduce heat to low. Let stand for 20-25 minutes. Bulgur wheat should be chewy but slightly firm to the bite.

Serves approximately 3-4 people, depending on how hungry they are. This is very garlic-tastic, so you may want to have mint ice cream for dessert, or hand out breath mints.

Try it out and tell me what you think!

Friday’s Hot Tip

This week’s hot tip is actually a recipe that I’ve had for many years. It was a Pillsbury Bake-Off winner back in the ’70s – Momcat used to make it occasionally for me and Pops, but used a vegetarian chicken substitute instead (still very tasty). Out of all the dishes I’ve cooked for Joe in the 6 months we’ve been together, this is his favorite.

Savory Chicken Crescent Squares

3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T margarine, melted
2 C chicken, cooked and cubed
1/4 tsp salt or Season-All
1/8 tsp pepper
1 ½ tsp milk*
1 T chopped onion or chives
1 T chopped pimiento
8 oz can Pillsbury crescent rolls
3/4 C seasoned bread crumbs OR crushed seasoned croutons
1 T margarine, melted (optional)

Combine cream cheese, 2 T margarine, chicken, salt, pepper, onion, pimiento, and milk. Mix well. Separate can of crescent rolls into 4 rectangles, sealing perforations, on a cookie sheet or flat baking pan. Spoon 1/4 to ½ cup of chicken mixture onto each rectangle. Pull corners to center and seal, or fold sides over to make a small square. Brush tops of squares with 1 T melted margarine and sprinkle bread crumbs/croutons on top.

Oven Temp = 350°
Baking Time = 20 – 25 minutes, or until golden brown
Serves = 4

*You can eliminate the milk all together, as it makes the mixture very runny.

Hints:

  • Use real cream cheese–lowfat or fat-free cream cheese will make the mixture too watery.
  • The bread crumbs or crushed croutons can be brushed on without using any additional margarine.
  • To make this vegetarian, use 1 can Worthington Fri-Chik instead of chicken. You can also try chickpeas (I haven’t done this yet but I bet it would be really good), seitan, or seasoned tofu.
  • Try different fillings! Possibilities include chili with cheddar cheese, spinach with ricotta or feta cheese, pepperoni and mushrooms with mozzarella…man, now I’m hungry.