Sunday, January 31, 2010

Yogurt Marinated Chicken Thighs on Cilantro Scallion Rice

This is the most delicious thing I've made in months. I knew I was onto something when I drooled a little just pulling the raw chicken from the marinade, but holy hell this is delicious. I'm not even sure I what I like better - the chicken or the rice. Thank God I don't have to choose.

I tend to put shallots in all my rice dishes but I decided to hold back here and try their less sexy cousin, the green onion (okay scallion, you Yankee) in lieu of having to saute anything.

Laziness pays off. The green onions/scallions/whatever you like to call them are what make this dish so lovely. They perfume the chicken without making it too oniony and lend their sweet bite to the rice - just a handful (about 3 tablespoons) is all you need here. You'll notice that I barely put any cumin in the rice and there's a reason for this. I want the rice to have just enough flavor to let the chicken shine, not get into a pissing contest with it. If you feel differently, use a heavier hand in seasoning but I think you're wrong.

One last note. Finally, finally I get all the fuss about dark meat - chicken thighs in particular. Thank you Nigella! You were right, as always.

Yogurt Marinated Chicken Thighs on Cilantro Scallion Rice
* Marinade adapted from Bon Appetit
* Cooking time is for 4 chicken thighs - if making more, you might need longer and might need a slightly bigger pan as well as another 1/2 onion to place them on.
* Most people can easily eat 2 chicken thighs, so be sure and calculate this if serving company.
* Garam Masala is a wonderful combination of all the spices you'd want at a party. If you can't find it in your grocery, order it online. Google will pull up a trusty source for you, I'm sure.

Chicken and Marinade Instructions:
4 bone in, skin on chicken thighs (marinade will hold up to 6 if you have the need)

1 (6 oz) container Greek yogurt, either whole or 2 % (you want whole, trust me)
1/4 cup buttermilk
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup chopped green onions (okay scallions, you yankee)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed with the back of a knife to break up a little and impart their juice

1 large sweet onion, peeled and cut into 1/8 " slices
1 teaspoon olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix the marinade ingredients (the yogurt through the garlic) all together in a large ziploc bag. Add the chicken and smush around to make sure each piece coated. Seal and refrigerate overnight, flipping over half way if you remember, then remove about 20 minutes before baking to take the chill off.

To bake, preheat the oven to 375. Grease an 8x8" glass or ceramic baking dish with nonstick spray. Lay the onion slices over the bottom, distributing evenly to form a bed. Drizzle the onions with a teaspoon of olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken from the marinade, shaking off excess, and place skin side up on top of the onions, distributing evenly. Place in the oven, uncovered and cook for 22-25 minutes, or until the skin is becoming mottled and brown in places and the onions are nice and soft and cooked through underneath. Serve the thighs on a bed of cilantro scallion rice - recipe follows.

Cilantro Scallion Rice Ingredients and Instructions:
1 cup jasmine rice
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
3 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup (large handful) fresh cilantro, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cumin
pinch kosher or sea salt - optional

Place the rice, stock, and butter in a medium pot with a lid. Stir well, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir again, then lower the heat enough so that with the top on, the rice is only simmering gently and not spitting mad. Let simmer for 20 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and take off the heat. Let sit with the top on for 5 minutes, then stir in the peas, scallions, cilantro and cumin. Taste for salt and add any if necessary.

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