Friday, May 6, 2016

Chicken Braise with Winter Vegetables

Making recipes from chef authored cookbooks is a tall order! Their techniques range from using expensive cuts of meat and fish, often proclaiming a convoluted lengthy cooking process, to procuring obscure food items. It mostly stymies and mystifies the average housewife. That is me. Then I am gifted Flavorwalla, Floyd Cardoz's latest endeavor. And I am thrilled. The book is filled with anecdotes and insights...a glimpse into the chef's life. Then there are the recipes, easy everyday food with extraordinary flavors. They speak to me in tongues I understand. Contents read like a friend telling me what to cook. And I love love love that Floyd incorporates his family into his culinary story. It endears me to the book even more. Family and food are forever entrenched together, the butter to my bread, the yin and yang of kitchen love.

Having tasted Floyd Cardoz's wares at the now defunct Tabla and Bread Bar when it first opened, I savor his Indian leanings. His Mumbai bastion The Bombay Canteen is a convivial fun spot, where you wine and dine on his slightly corkscrewed take on traditional Indian fare. Some riffs are pleasantly surprising, others like Eggs Kejriwal are an intense flavor bomb. Then again I am a fan of One Spice Two Spice his first book venture. The coriander shrimp are scrumptiously easy. With these meager revelations, I have just scratched the surface that is the unassuming Master Chef Floyd Cardoz.

The cookbook, an avid and mouthwatering page turner, excites me into making chicken, my least favorite meat! The recipe calls for thighs but I plan to substitute chicken tenders instead.  I know the broth will not have that depth of flavor. But the braise sounds delicious. Miraculously, I have everything the recipe calls for to give it a whirl. 

Slightly modified from Flavorwalla by Floyd Cardoz
Serves 3-4

8 Chicken Tenderloins 
2 tablespoons Coriander Seeds
3 thin Ginger slices
2 Rosemary sprigs
2 large pinches of Kosher Salt 
2 + 2 tablespoons Olive Oil 
2 Bacon rashers 
5 Garlic cloves
1 large Onion
1 large Yukon Gold Potato 
2 Carrots
1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
Several grinds of Black Pepper 
1/2 cup Cabbage chunks
1 small Apple
2 tablespoons grainy Dijon Mustard
1/2 teaspoon Chile Flakes

Place chicken in a bowl. 

Grind coriander seeds to a powder and add to chicken, along with ginger slices, rosemary, salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix so chicken is well coated. Marinate for at least 1 hour or best yet, overnight. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Cut onion into 3/4 inch wedges.

Peel and cut potato and carrot into large chunks.

Heat oven to 375F.

Heat remaining olive oil in a cast iron Dutch oven or any ovenproof pan.

Brown chicken a few minutes on each side. Remove and place on a plate or bowl.

Chop bacon into small chunks and add to pan. Let bacon fat render for a few minutes. Bacon should start turning brown.

Peel and smash garlic and add to bacon. Give the cloves a few minutes to turn golden.

Then add the chopped vegetables and a small sprinkling of salt. Stir, place a tight fitting lid on pan. I put some foil over the pan and then placed the lid on top. This gave the pan a good seal. The vegetables need to cook in their steam hence the tight fitting lid. 

Put the pan in the oven for 20 minutes.

Take the pan out of the oven and add chicken tenders and stock to vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and return pan to oven uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Peel, core and chop apple into chunks.

Remove pan from the oven and place over a low flame.

Add cabbage, apple, mustard and chile flakes to chicken and simmer for 10 minutes before serving.

I plate a bowl of potato and apple thickened broth laden with vegetables, bacon bits and chicken flecked with grainy mustard. The clatter of fork, knife and spoon takes over. I pair the braise with fluffy basmati rice. This soupy broth of coriander, ginger, mustard, root vegetables and chicken is a bowl of comfort. My face is awash with Floyd's steamy pun intended!