Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Curried Chicken with Vanilla and Grapes

When I saw the vanilla beans in the box from Marx Foods, I was determined to use them in an unexpected way, i.e., NOT in a dessert! After much contemplation, I realized that these amazingly fragrant, earthy beans could balance a highly spiced, aromatic dish. A curry was a natural choice! I ended up using a combination of mild and hot curry powders, with chicken as the protein. A dash of butter added sweet, smooth, fatty tones, and sprigs of thyme and tarragon added fresh, herbal notes that rounded out the flavor profile (the anise flavor of the tarragon was unexpectedly perfect with the vanilla). The grapes were a last minute addition, a nod to a favorite curried chicken salad recipe.

Curried Chicken with Vanilla and Grapes
by Gary Gee

½ Marx Foods Tahitian Vanilla Bean, halved, seeds scraped out and reserved, pod cut into pieces
2 teaspoons mild curry powder
1 teaspoon hot curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds chicken legs or thighs, trimmed of excess fat
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large onion, sliced
½ cup sliced crimini mushrooms
1 can (14.5 ounce size) diced tomatoes, drained
3 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup hot chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
½ teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped
1 whole clove
½ cup seedless red grapes, halved
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley

Combine the vanilla seeds, curry powders, salt and pepper in a small dish. Rub all over the chicken legs. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 325°.

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the chicken legs along with the vanilla bean pieces; cook for fifteen minutes, turning to brown evenly. Add the onion and mushrooms; cook for 5 minutes, until softened and slightly browned. Add the tomatoes, chicken stock, herbs, and clove. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and bake in 325° oven for 1 hour, until the chicken is tender and sauce is reduced slightly.

Remove the chicken legs to a platter. De-fat the sauce, remove the clove and thyme sprigs, and check for seasonings. Stir the grapes into the sauce and pour over the chicken. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve immediately.

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