Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Grandma's Famous Chicken

I think about Mumma (what we all used to call my maternal grandmother) quite a bit. She is no longer with us, but she is still a very real presence in our lives. An intelligent and accomplished woman, with a generous spirit, and a loving disposition, my Mumma was just as responsible for my initiation into cooking as my own mother. She was a formidable cook herself. Some days she would prepare her prized hyderabadi Mughlai-style dishes that people would travel through Canadian blizzards to get at. On other days she would delight the westernized palates of her bratty, ungrateful grandkids (ahem, that would be my brother and I) with her inimitable fried rice or spicy chicken spaghetti.

So today, as I was flipping through my recipe folder, I came across this hand-written recipe. This is the most prized memento I have from Mumma, which she gave to me as I was leaving my parents' home for the first time, going off to live on my own in this big, scary world. This recipe for 'Fried Chicken' - although it's technically braised, not fried - was one of the first things I learnt how to cook. It's flavors will always remind me of all things I loved about my Mumma.
I've taken quite a few liberties with this recipe since I first made it. It's very forgiving that way - hey, just like Mumma! - and here is one version of it.

My Grandma's Famous Chicken

4 skinless chicken legs, thighs attached
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
1/4 cup soya sauce
1/3 cup white vinegar
Marinate all the above ingredients above for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

3 tbsp canola oil
1 small onion finely chopped
1/4 cup apple juice / cranberry juice
1 cup boiled peas (the frozen ones will do)
Honey-Roasted Carrots with Thyme (recipe to follow)
Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes (recipe to follow)

Step 1: Prepare the Roasted Garlic and keep aside.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Take one whole head of garlic and slice off the top 1/4 inch. All the cloves should be exposed. Leave the papery skin on.
  • Now pour 1-2 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil over the top.
  • Sprinkle a pinch of kosher salt.
  • Wrap the entire garlic bulb in foil and put it straight onto the middle rack of your oven for 50 mins.
  • Take it out, let it cool down, then squeeze out the caramelized, buttery-soft garlic cloves from their skins.

Step 2: Prepare the Honey-Roasted Carrots with Thyme and keep aside.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Take 4-5 medium-sized carrots, wash them, scrape the skins off and chop into roughly 1 inch chunks.
  • Place them on a foil-lined roasting tray, and pour over 1 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Pour over 1 tbsp of honey and sprinkle 1/4 tsp dry thyme (or 1 or 2 sprigs of fresh thyme leaves).
  • Add a pinch of kosher salt and some black pepper, then mix it all up so that the carrots are coated well with the honey and olive oil.
  • Roast them for 45 mins.

Step 3: While the carrots are roasting, prepare the Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes and set aside.

  • Peel and chop 4 medium-sized potatoes into 1/2 inch chunks.
  • Put them in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes chunks are tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain the water out, then mash the potatoes with 1 tbsp of butter, 2 tbsp of milk, at least 4-5 cloves of the roasted garlic you prepared earlier, along with salt and pepper.

Step 4: While the potatoes are boiling, get started on the main component of Grandma's Famous Chicken.

  • Put 2 tbsp of the oil in a skillet on med-high heat.
  • Remove the chicken legs from the marinade (don't throw out the marinade) and sear them in the pan, till golden-brown on both sides. Take the chicken out and keep it on the side.
  • Pour in 1 more tbsp of the oil in the same skillet, then add the chopped onion. When these turn golden, add back the chicken.
  • Pour in the marinade (*gasp* - I know, but trust me, all bacteria will be dead when you boil the heck out of this!) and the cranberry juice and bring the whole thing to a boil. Then turn the heat down to medium-low and cook the chicken till tender - about 20 mins.
  • Note: You might want to add more soya sauce OR vinegar per your taste. I personally prefer to add more vinegar than soya. No need to add salt to this sauce because of the soya.
To assemble the final dish, pile on the Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes in the middle of a large platter. Place the four chicken pieces on top. Scatter over the Honey-Roasted Carrots With Thyme, along with the boiled peas. Finally, spoon over some of the delicious gravy, while keeping the rest aside in a gravy-boat. Hot dinner rolls will help your guests soak up all the delicious gravy.
And there you have it, my Grandma's Famous Chicken, in all it's proud glory!


Anonymous said...

Hello, Your Mumma's Chicken looks as fantastic as I'm sure it tastes. Although perhaps inappropriate for this venue, and with all due respect to you and your husband, I'd like to say that you are one beautiful woman! Ozzy's not too bad looking either! :)

Elaine said...

Hi, found your blog via Tastespotting. Your grandmother's chicken recipe reminds me of comfort foods I like - and not to mention, fond gastronomical memories with my own late grandmother.

I am going to have to give this recipe of yours a try some day! :)

Muneeba said...

Thks Elaine ... my grandma would've been happy to see her recipe get such a good response! And don't you just love Tastespotting?!

Sarah St-McGoodbody said...

Mmmm, that looks so good. I must try it!
All my favourite food memories are the things my grandma used to cook. Mum tries to replicate them but never quite gets it right.