Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tandoori chicken

There’s something I just have to share with you. Back on Nov. 5, I posted a recipe for broiled chicken parts. It’s a superb recipe. Several days ago we got our winter copy of “Cooks Illustrated” magazine. They put forth a plan for tandoori-style chicken done in the oven and finished under the broiler. We love Indian food flavors and I decided to try it last night.

Now, I know that this blog is supposed to be about my creativity. However, most of you probably don’t have a subscription to the mag and can only know about this if I share it with you. Let me just say this: the results were phenomenal; so much so that for 2 hours after dinner I reveled in the lingering glow in my mid-section.

Christopher Kimball, editor of the magazine and host of the tv show “America’s Test Kitchen,” constantly reminds us that he doesn’t care for spicy food. With that in mind, I deduced that the spices in this recipe needed boosting. I accomplished it by simply using the amounts called for for 3 pounds of chicken parts even though I was cooking only 2 pounds (4 chicken legs and 4 thighs, bone in and skin on).

Other than that I followed the recipe slavishly. If I ever offer something I think is a must-try, this is it.

Oops, I nearly forgot to tell you about the perfectly cooked basmati rice Peter prepared. It was cooked in some homemade chicken stock and tossed with a bit of butter. I asked Peter over dinner what makes basmati so unique and special. He wasn’t sure. I’ll do some research and get back to you.

Tandoori chicken
2 tbsp vegetable oil
6 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 cup plain yogurt (whole milk or reduced fat)
4 tbsp lime juice (probably 2 limes)
2 tsp salt
2 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken parts

Heat oil in small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add garam masala, cumin and chili powder; continue to cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds longer. Transfer half of the mix to a medium bowl; stir in yogurt and 2 tbsp lime juice and set aside.

In large bowl, combine remaining garlic-spice mix, 2 tbsp lime juice, and salt. Using a sharp knife, lightly score skin side of each piece of chicken, making 2 or 3 shallow cuts about 1 inch apart and about 1/8 inch deep; transfer to bowl. Gently massage salt-spice mix into chicken until all pieces are evenly coated; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat oven to 325°. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken and toss to coat evenly. Arrange chicken pieces, skin side down, on wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Bake chicken until instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of chicken registers 125°.

After removing chicken from oven, turn oven to broil and heat 5 minutes. Be sure to leave the oven door ajar throughout the broiling process to avoid the heating element from cycling off. Turn the chicken pieces over (skin side up now) and broil until chicken is lightly charred in spots and instant-read thermometer registers 165° for breasts and 170° for thighs and legs. Remove from the oven, tent loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

For a free excerpt of my book, “A Year of Food,” in which I opine, report, cook, muse and philosophize about everything that passed my lips for an entire year, write to me at:

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