I’m yielding the floor to Jody this week. There’s a good story about how I lost my grip, its effects on a poor chicken, and Jody finding a solution despite the malfunction of the wheyback machine.
In February (a different world ago) I was visiting Rwanda for a close-up look at the work of Partners in Health. While there I had the opportunity to collaborate with Chef Bella Twizerimame, where she and her team of 70 were responsible for providing 3 fabulous meals a day for the lucky faculty, staff and students of the University of Global Health Equity in Butaro. She was eager to expand her repertoire and I wanted to make something with local ingredients.
Ginger, fresh turmeric and yogurt were all produced locally and I thought we might thicken the yogurt to use as part of a sauce with chicken. After draining overnight it resembled Greek yogurt, but the process produced an unexpectedly large amount of whey, the protein rich liquid that drains out of yogurt or that’s left over after curds begin to form in cheesemaking. Both Bella and I thought it seemed a shame to just discard it. Aha! That was when the lightbulb went off – we’d braise the chicken in whey and reserve the thickened yogurt for something else. It was perfect. The whey created a rich sauce, adding just the right amount of acid to balance the fat from the braised chicken. It was one of those serendipitous moments when we’d started out thinking we’d use one thing and ended up using the other. We added garlic to the thickened yogurt and served it as a condiment on the side.
My plan for the blog was to recreate this at home, but the night before we were to cook and shoot, Ken held up the open tub of yogurt I was going to drain to show me that it was only about two-thirds full. He was standing in the kitchen and somehow it slipped through his fingers and hit the floor, shattering the flimsy container and exploding yogurt across the kitchen and out into our open dining and living areas. We’re still finding yogurt spots 3 weeks later. I think of it as an Easter egg hunt.
In these days of social distancing a second trip to the grocery store with two days was out of the question, especially consider the wait to be let inside. All we had was Greek yogurt. Fine. The hell with it. I thinned the yogurt with chicken stock and cooked with it. The chicken and sauce were delicious. The fact that the yogurt broke during cooking didn’t bother me at all. It looked a little curdled, but it reminded me of another delicious dish that also comes out a little curdled, milk-braised pork, from northern Italy.
Ginger Turmeric Chicken with Lime Yogurt and Coconut Rice
Put your recipe here. Tip: use ordered and unordered lists, headings, images, and links to improve the look of your recipe.
INGREDIENTS FOR CHICKEN:
- 1 lime
- 2 cups Greek yogurt
- 8 bone-in chicken thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 2 carrots cut into ½ inch slices
- 2 small onions cut into ½ inch dice
- ¼ cup julienned ginger
- 2 tablespoons sliced garlic
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh, or dried ground, turmeric
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup chicken stock
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley
INGREDIENTS FOR COCONUT RICE:
- 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
- 1 cup rice of your choice
- Juice of half a lime
- Make a lime-yogurt sauce. Zest the lime. Set the lime aside and mix the zest [right?] into 1 cup of yogurt. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate.
- Trim and discard any extra skin and fat from the thighs.
- Season both sides of the thighs with salt, pepper and coriander and let sit up to 3 hours in the fridge.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat the oil in a large oven-proof sauté pan over medium-high heat and sear the chicken, skin side down, until golden brown. Transfer to a large plate, skin side up.
- Reduce the heat to medium, add the carrots, onions, ginger, garlic and fresh turmeric (if using dried turmeric, don’t add until next step) to the pan in the residual oil, season with salt and pepper, add a tablespoon of water, cover and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook an additional few minutes until the vegetables start to brown.
- Add the dried turmeric if using, honey, soy sauce, bay leaves and juice of half a lime to the pan. (Save the remaining lime half for the rice.) Simmer 2 minutes.
- Whisk the chicken stock into the remaining yogurt, then pour it into the pan. Arrange the chicken skin-side up in the pan.
- Roast in a 350-degree oven for 35 minutes or until the chicken is done. Start the rice.
- To crisp the skin, turn the oven to broil and cook until the skin is crisp and golden brown.
- Transfer the chicken to a platter.
- Put the pan on the heat and raise the heat to a simmer to reduce the juices for a couple of minutes. Whisk while the juices thicken.
- Stir the chopped cilantro into the sauce.
- Serve the chicken with coconut rice and lime yogurt.
- Put the coconut milk into a pot with 1 cup water. Season with salt and bring to a boil.
- Add the rice, season with pepper, cover, lower the heat and cook until done, about 30 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes or so.
- Stir in the juice of half a lime.