Monday, March 17, 2008

Yogurt Chicken and Spicy Sweet Potatoes

Kris and I have a hard time eating the same thing over and over again - even if we love it. Part of that is living in NYC and constantly being exposed to new things that we want to try making at home. The other reason is that I have a hard time justifying my ever-expanding cookbook collection if I just make the same things over and over.

This next recipe is an exception. If I'm too lazy to try something new, it's our standby. If we've had a bad week and want to de-stress with a meal we know will be great, it's our standby. If company's coming or if we want to cook something we feel is semi good for us, it's our standby.

I can't say enough about this meal. You'll want to use Greek yogurt here, whole milk if you can bare it (you scrape most of this off anyway before cooking) but please don't try using the fat free variety (0% variety) - crack open a Lean Cuisine and call it a day if that's your gig.

The key is marinating the chicken for at least 8 hours, but I prefer doing so overnight (you can also make the yogurt sauce the night before too which makes pulling the whole thing together the night of a breeze.)

If you've never broiled meat before, don't be afraid. I was terrified the first time I made it that it would be charred on the outside and raw on the inside. But, allowing your chicken to sit out for 30 minutes before cooking prevents this. Also, really watch it while it cooks, doing your first 'check' at 8 minutes. Two cutlets shouldn't take longer than 10 minutes, and as frightful as it is to cook meat for that short a period of time, 8 minutes is all it takes in my broiler drawer. I imagine you could also grill the chicken if it's that time of year.

Yogurt Chicken:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 small tub Greek yogurt (usually 5.3 oz, preferably whole or 2% Fage)
1 chunk gresh ginger (3-4 inches) either grated or chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
coarse salt - about 3/4 teaspoon
small handful of fresh mint, roughly chopped
2-3 shallots, chopped
handful fresh cilantro, chopped
zest of one lime

Mix the yogurt with the ginger, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, herbs, shallots, and lime zest. Place chicken breast in a large ziploc or medium tupperware and cover with marinade, being sure to turn to coat and really piling on the mixture to give them a good soaking. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat your broiler oven. Remove the chicken from the marinade and scrape off excess (don't be tempted to leave large hunks clinging onto the chicken - it will only burn.) Grease a pan with a rack in it, place breasts on the rack and put in the oven. Check starting at 8 minutes - breasts are done when the edges are JUST beginning to char and the thin veil of marinade on the meat has completely lost its glossy wetness and become a chalky, dull white.

Cucumber Yogurt Sauce:

This can be whipped together while the chicken broils, but I have done this the day before with good results. The mixture will look a bit watery and sad - just stir it together and remind yourself looks aren't everything. Or you could mix everything but the lime juice together the day before, holding off this ingredient until the last minute.)

1 small tub whole or 2% Greek yogurt
1 large or 2 small shallots, chopped
1 handful of fresh mint, rough chopped
1 large handful cilantro, rough chopped
1 medium cucumber, cubed into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
juice of 1/2 lime

Mix alltogether and let sit for at least 30 minutes in the fridge before serving. Spoon over hot chicken when dishing, or serve alongside for people to serve themselves.

Spicy Sweet Potatoes:

Preheat oven to 425. If making with the above chicken, you can just start this 45 minutes before putting the chicken in. If they're not done by the time you need to raise the temperature to broil, they can withstand the intense heat - just keep a strict eye on them as they'll go quickly. I've actually blackened these on accident and still thought they tasted good - but ideally you're looking for a golden dark bronze in the finished product, not jet black. One more thing - if you like your potatoes crispy, add the lime juice and zest to the cubed potatoes before baking, along with the olive oil and other seasoning. If you want a more intense lime infused zing and don't mind a softer potato, toss at the end of baking with the lime juice and zest.

3 yams (or red skinned sweet potatoes), cubed into 1 inch chunks
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons olive oil

zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon minced fresh mint, optional
2 tablespoons minced cilantro, optional

Grease a large roasting tray/edged baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine the cubed sweet potatoes with the red pepper flakes, salt, olive oil, (and lime zest and juice, if doing so now.) Dump onto the baking sheet spacing out as best as possible. Bake for 20 minutes then flip so that they cook evenly. Put back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove and toss with fresh herbs (and lime juice and zest, if doing so now) and serve immediately.

1 comment:

Phyllis Koenig said...

i can't WAIT to make this - all sounds very delicious. and thanks much for all of your side notes and comments. a great cook tell all and lets people know the good, the bad and the ugly so it's clear. i'll report back! Phyllis