Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pizza and North Indian Butter Chicken -- what a lunch!


Charlie and I just made such a fantastic lunch, and I'm still buzzing from it.  We made a quick run to the Dekalb Farmer's Market this morning to pick up groceries for the weekend, and while we were there we decided to grab a pizza crust and some tomato sauce.  Now, I (we) usually try to make most everything that we eat.  BUT, the pizza crust and the tomato sauce were so beautiful and fresh (made today at the farmers market with all whole foods -- no preservatives) that I just thought oh, what the hell, and we threw them in the cart.  
We had three raw chicken thighs in the refrigerator so Charlie heated up a cast-iron pan (on the stove), sprinkled the chicken with kosher salt and cracked pepper, and seared the thighs for about 5 minutes on each side.  Then the pan went into the oven at 350 degrees for about 5 more minutes.  As the chicken cooked I topped the pizza crust with the spicy tomato sauce (full of basil, rosemary, onions, and the like), tossed on some mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and minced garlic.  We then tore some of the chicken into bite-sized pieces and placed that on top.  We shredded the remaining chicken and tossed it into a small baking dish with some leftover Indian Butter Sauce that I made a few days ago.  Everything went into the oven for ten minutes, which is just long enough to split a cold beer, and lunch was ready.  Delicious!
What a quick, easy, and thoroughly satisfying lunch.  As we enjoyed the pizza and the chicken we discussed keeping homemade pizza dough on hand.  It's so simple to make, but you do have to plan ahead as it takes some time.  The New York Times recently ran a fabulous article on making your own pizza, and now it's all I want to eat!   I'm going to get to work on that, and we're having a pizza party soon. 




This North Indian Butter Sauce is so flavorful and keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week.  It takes a bit of time to make, but it's definitely worth it.  Charlie says it tastes like something from a good restaurant, and I agree.  It also smells terrific as it simmers on the stove.  Try it on chicken, fish, or eggplant.  It's super great on tandoori chicken.

North Indian Butter Sauce 

1/4 lb butter (1 stick) plus 2 Tbsp
5 Tbsp canola oil
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp ginger and garlic paste
10 oz tomato puree
2 tsp ground cardamom powder 
4 Tbsp ground cashew nuts made to a fine paste
1 cup chicken broth
2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper plus 1/2 tsp
2 - 3 tsp salt (to taste)
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy cream or half and half 
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
pinch of tandoori masala
2 Tbsp fenugreek leaves

Heat butter and oil together in a wok, add a bay leaf, stir for a few seconds, and add the ginger and garlic paste.  Cook until most of the liquid evaporates.
Add the tomato puree and the cardamom.  Let it cook until the puree dries and the fat separates.  Add the cashew paste and stir for a few seconds.  Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Salt to taste.  Cover and cook for 10 to 15 uminutes or until the masala turns a bright red color.  Add milk and cream, continuing to stir, then add the garam masala and a pinch of tandoori masala.
In a separate pan make a tempering by heating 2 Tbsp butter then adding the fenugreek leaves and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.  Cook for 30 seconds then add to the sauce.  Pour the sauce over chicken, fish, or eggplant, and serve warm with naan.

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