December Dinner Party: Warm Up Winter with Curry!

Dinner party can be as easy as a slow cooker.  December’s hostess brought together curry flavors with figs and goat cheese for a delightful mideast feast.

IMG_1176Starting the night off with roasted figs and goat cheese will delight just about anyone.  It’s a excellent balance of sweet and tangy, caramelized sugars.  File these babies under biggest bang for your buck.  Your guests will devour this easy appetizer and since they’re not a frequent feature at many parties, you’ll get bonus points for creativity and uniqueness. Add a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and they’ll never stop talking about you.

Her salad course also sang high notes with caramelized onions. Are you sensing a secondary theme?  Spinach, more goat cheese, balsamic vinegar and these amazing onions, take a whopping ten minutes but the acidity will be welcome after the fig appetizer. A good dry rose (No, not white zin.  Just stop.) will add more acidity and help prep for the spice in the curry, though you might want to eat some of the naan to help clear your palate a bit.

IMG_1179Then hit ’em with the second punch: caramelized onion and fig jam with goat cheese on naan. This one speaks for itself, a perfect yin and yang of sweetness and savory tied together with a mild saltiness of the naan.  It gets even more mind blowing if you toast the naan.  Sidebar: try fig and balsamic pizza for these exact same reasons.  Back to your regularly scheduled programming.

This curry can be made in your sleep.  Literally, because its a slow cooker version. (I am hilarious. Please don’t stop reading this blog because only I think I am funny, I apologize). Serve over white or brown rice making sure to get plenty of sauce and toasted cashews. Let the spices warm you and enjoy a nice winter’s dinner with friends!  Sometimes Martha does do it better and this is one of those where I will give credit and glory where it’s due. (The ingredients she lists as optional, I will say should be mandatory).

INGREDIENTS*
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
  • 2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • 8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 16 thin slices peeled fresh ginger (about 1 ounce)
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Madras
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 packages frozen green peas (10 ounces each)
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup toasted cashews (optional, for serving)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves (optional, for serving)
  • *1 cup butternut squash to add flavor and creamy texture.  A guest of ours was vegetarian and so the chicken was cooked and served separately.
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a 5-quart slow cooker, toss chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, coriander, and cumin to coat. Season with 2 teaspoons salt. Cover, cook on high setting until chicken is fork-tender, about 4 hours (do not uncover while cooking).
  2. Stir in coconut milk and peas; cover, cook until peas are heated through, about 20 minutes.
  3. Transfer chicken to a large bowl; shred with fork. Return to pot; toss with sauce.

To serve, garnish with 1/2 cup toasted cashews and 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, if desired (I say required).

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