Butter Chicken

I ran into a friend the other day.  She has been having a hard time this fall with work and kids and the infamous "work-life balance."  When work piles on extra responsibilities and the kids throw a couple curve balls at you, its really hard to keep up.

But when I talked to her, life had really taken the time to kick her in the shins: a couple days before, her daughter had come home scratching her head furiously.  Lice.  Its every mother's nemesis, not because of the crawlies but because of the cleaning.

I went home and whipped up some butter chicken for that girl.  Butter chicken is comfort food and she needed a night off.

In case you could use a little comfort, I've included the recipe below.  It takes a bit of time, but you are rewarded by having 2-3 meals worth in the end.

Butter Chicken
(modified from Chatelaine Magazine, Holiday 2008)

2 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
10 skinless, chicken breasts or 20 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/4 cup butter
1 large onion
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 4 hot peppers, such jalapeno or serrano (optional)
1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
1 cup chopped cilantro
500-mL container whipping cream (about 2 cups)
2 14-oz cans tomato sauce
2 cups frozen peas (optional: I hate peas)

1. Place cumin, coriander and salt in a small bowl.  Stir evenly to mix.
2. Slice chicken into strips.
3. Melt 2 Tbsp. butter in the largest, widest saucepan you have, over medium-high heat.  Add half the chicken and sprinkle with half the cumin mixture.  Turn often until the chicken is lightly coloured, about 5-6 minutes.  Remove to a large bowl.  Repeat with the remaining butter, chicken and cumin mixture.
4. Meanwhile coarsely chop onion.  Prepare garlic.  Finely chop peppers (include seeds if you want it spicier).  Finely grate ginger and coarsely chop cilantro.  Set aside.
5.  When second batch of chicken is removed from pan, add onion and garlic.  Sauté until slightly softened, from 3 to 4 minutes.  Pour in cream.  Using a wooden spoon, scrape up and stir in any brown bit from your pan bottom.  Stir in tomato sauce, peppers and ginger.  Simmer 10 minutes so flavours can develop.
6.  Return chicken and juices to pan.  If you don't think all of this will fit into your pan, split everything between two pans and add half the chicken to each.  When mixture starts to boil, reduce heat to medium low.  Cover and simmer, stirring chicken occasionally, until cooked through, from 10 to 15 minutes.  Stir in cilantro and peas and cook until the peas are hot (about 3 minutes).  Remove from heat.  Taste and add more cilantro, if needed.


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