Tuesday’s bento featured a curried recipe dish that was quite a departure for me from my usual recipe tries. This morning, I want to take a moment to talk about why I tried this recipe, the changes I made, how I think those changes affected the dish, and overall what I thought about what I did.
Lately, I haven’t been very happy with what I’m finding on Recipezaar. I don’t mean that as a disparaging remark against that website, because I truly love Recipezaar. It’s also helped me out greatly in the past. It just seems lately that I can’t find something that’s really catching my interest when I type in the ingredients that I have and look around the site.
House Purge 2009 was my vacation project. Everything in my house was examined for usefulnees, necessariness, and I-still-want-it-ness. My bookshelf was a big part of this purge process. Things I had duplicates of I decided to give away or offer as prizes here on NEB.
As I looked at my cookbooks, I realized that I hardly ever use them. Some I purchased because the simplicity of the recipe and clear instructions impressed me. I just knew I could make some of those recipes. But they ended up landing on my bookshelf, never used once I brought some of them home. I pulled out the ones I was most interested in using and moved them to my kitchen with my recipe binder. This is when I made my first bento goal of the New Year: cook more from the books I’ve purchased to help me. I’ve decided I’m going to cook new recipes from these books only during the Bento Challenge. Afterwards, I’m going to try to remind myself to try these books first before sitting down to the computer to find a recipe. Here are the books that I am working with (links below are affiliated with Amazon):
- The Absolute Beginner’s Cookbook by Jackie Eddy and Eleanor Clark
- The Insulin-Resistance Diet–Revised and Updated: How to Turn Off Your Body’s Fat-Making Machine
- Slower Cooker Recipes (a book my mom gave me from LTD Commodities, good recipes in it)
- 500 Low-Carb Recipes: 500 Recipes from Snacks to Dessert, That the Whole Family Will Love
- The Sugar Solution Cookbook: More Than 200 Delicious Recipes to Balance Your Blood Sugar Naturally (Preventions)
- My Binder Cookbook
- The Peg Bracken Books (not pictured)
This curried chicken recipe came from The Sugar Solution Cookbook on page 261, named Country Captain Chicken. It caught my eye because I wanted to try a recipe that used curry powder. My biggest problem while trying to make this recipe is that I did not have two of the ingredients called for: almonds and currants. I knew I didn’t want to ride up to my neighborhood grocery store at that time to get the almonds. As well, I had no way (or idea of where) to get currants. Here’s what happened:
First, as always, I gathered my ingredients. Here is what you need for this recipe: 1 tbs olive oil, 1 can diced tomatoes, chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, 4 chicken breast halves (boneless/skinless), 1/2 tsp dried thyme, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/4 cup sliced & toasted almonds, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbs whole wheat flour, 1 tbs curry powder, 1/4 cup chicken broth, 1 tbs dried currants.
Since I didn’t have all the ingredients listed above I made a couple of substitutions. First, I only had tomato sauce instead of having the diced tomatoes. No big deal, it just means the dish won’t be all that chunky. The recipe lists to just use 1 medium onion and 2 bell peppers, chopped. BAH! I hate that in recipes. What exactly is one medium onion? Am I using bell peppers that are too big? ACK! I used 1/2 cup of frozen, chopped onions and bell peppers. I didn’t have any almonds at the house, but I did have pecans. I was unsure if this would make a good substitute or taste right with the curry. I looked up curry and pecans online and found references to a chicken curry salad with pecans. I decided to give the pecans a whirl and toasted them quickly in a small pan before I started the recipe. Finally, I didn’t have any currants, so I thought at first I would just try it without the currants. It wasn’t until later that I thought about raisins (hence the absence of raisins in the above picture).
The recipe itself was pretty easy. First, place a dutch oven, or large pot on to your stove, set to medium to medium-high heat, and pour in a tablespoon of olive oil. You can let that heat while you prepare the chicken halves. Sprinkle your chicken halves with 1/4 tsp of salt and then lightly with the tablespoon of whole wheat flour. That flour needs to coat both sides, so be a bit sparing. Shake off any excess flour.
Once the chicken has been seasoned and coated, place them into the your heated pot and brown on the first side for about 3-4 minutes.
Once the first side is browned, flip all the chicken over and brown on the other side. I flipped mine a little too early. They could have browned more, but overall they were fine. Once the second side has browned, remove the chicken to a plate.
Add in your onions and bell peppers. Cook in the pot until they have softened. I recommend turning your heat down a bit. I found mine were cooking too fast and needed to be on a bit less heat.
Once the veggies have softened add your spices: curry powder, garlic, thyme, and the last of the salt (1/4 tsp). Cook for no more than 1 minute. Don’t stop stirring people. You don’t want this to burn (something I was constantly worried about).
Add in the diced tomatoes, or in my case a bit of regular tomato sauce. You also need to add in the chicken broth. Bring this to a boil . Then reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Place your chicken back into the pot. If you don’t think you have enough sauce to spoon over the chicken, just pour on a bit more tomato sauce onto it. I wasn’t using the full recipe since I didn’t have 4 chicken breast halves. I had 5 really, really plump chicken tenders. I halved alot of this recipe, so I had extra from my can of tomato sauce to pour on. One thing I learned was I could have used the sauce portion of this recipe pretty much in full.
At this point I decided to throw in some raisins in place of the currants. I read raisins are sweeter the currants and not a true substitute for them. I wondered what the sweetness of the raisins would be like coupled with the curry powder’s taste. So in they went. Since I was concerned about ruining this dishes low-sugar wonderfulness with raisins, I added 1 tbs less than the recipe called for currants.
Throw the lid on your pot and simmer this concoction for about 15 minutes, turning the chicken over sometime in the middle (or at least that’s what I did).
When it was all finished, I cut off a piece of chicken and made sure with that bite I also had a raisin and a pecan. I took the bite to see how things had turned out. My verdict: tasty but no oomph. I could immediately tell while the pecans tasted fine that almonds would give the dish that extra sparkle. I didn’t notice all that much of a sweet taste from the raisins. The three flavors (pecan, raisins, curry) all tasted fine. They just didn’t make a party in my mouth together. But luckily they didn’t make war either. So a good recipe and one I’ll try again. Next time with almonds. I think I’m just going to leave the currants out all together.
Final say: I’d recommend the recipe as written with no substitutions on my part next time.
Be the bento everyone! Today’s bento looks just like Tuesday’s bento, so no additional picture this morning.