Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Serrano-Peppered Chicken and Cauliflower with Raw Curry Sauce

I was feeling a bit flu-ish tonight, like I am coming down with something, and I wanted to eat something really healthy to help ward it off. I wanted something savory with lots of spice.

I've been thinking about how good raw onion and garlic are for me (since my post on guacamole). About how good the brassica veggies like broccoli and cauliflower are for me and how I really should eat them more often. I was kinda hankering for chicken (as in chicken noodle soup even though I know noodles are not good for me).

And I came up with this recipe.

I had a huge old organic cauliflower in the fridge I'd been meaning to roast with garlic and turkey bacon, but I didn't feel like roasted veggies. I wanted a comforting sauce.

I thought about what I wanted to put in my dish to make myself feel better. I knew I wanted to put turmeric and black pepper in it, after our discussion on turmeric the other day. The more I read, the more I'm convinced turmeric has magical properties. So I went to the store and got turmeric in a closed old-fashioned little tin container that didn't admit light. So it was ALIVE.

I bought some fresh peppercorns too. Remember, turmeric is better absorbed when prepared with black pepper, and there is more piperine in freshly ground peppercorns than in ground pepper that's been sitting for a long time.

They had organic boneless chicken thighs on clearance (I always wait til they are on sale). I knew I had garlic and onion at home, but I grabbed some fresh organic ginger and a serrano pepper.

Why serrano? I was reading some index the other night on foods that had the highest antioxidant count, and ginger was there at a respectable 120 but serrano pepper was above 2000. It blew my mind how those little suckers are that good for you. Cheap too. They were $2.99/lb which I thought was high til I put it on the scale. My little serrano pepper came out to a grand total of 2 cents. My nub of organic ginger ($4.99/lb) came out to 14 cents. They don't weigh much.

Here are the ingredients for the first part of the dish preparation:

6 chicken thighs
1 head organic cauliflower
1/2 serrano pepper (less or more as you like it) chopped fine
1 1/2 onion
3 tbsp grated fresh ginger
6 cloves garlic, semi-crushed then sliced fine
2 tbsp whole coriander, toasted, ground coarsely
2 tbsp whole cumin seed, toasted, ground coarsely
2 tbsp whole cardamom, toasted, ground coarsely
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and cracked black pepper to taste

I put a little avocado oil in the pan, just a smidge, and on high heat, I put a good browning on my chicken thighs. When they were as brown as I wanted them to be, I added the serrano pepper, 1 1/2 chopped onion, the garlic and the grated ginger. Then I added my coriander, cumin seed and cardamomI had just toasted on the stove and ground in my mortar and pestle. Added my salt and black pepper and let it simmer covered. It all made a slight sauce after simmering covered for awhile, then I added my cauliflower that I had chopped earlier. You always want to let cauliflower sit for at least 10 minutes after chopping it before you start cooking it. It makes the nutrients more available. This is also true for my garlic and onion that I'd chopped ahead of time and allowed to sit. I stirred the cauliflower and chicken around until all the cauliflower was coated in the highly-seasoned sauce from the pan.

Now this was shaping up to be a curry, but remember what we learned the other night about how high extended heat destroys the magical properties of our healing turmeric. And remember how I wanted a comforting savory sauce...? So I decided to save the curry sauce til after it was all cooked. And I started thinking again about how good raw garlic and onion are for me and how hard they are to incorporate into my menus.

So I came up with this idea: I got out my ninja (or you could use a blender or food processor), threw some plain unflavored kefir in there, tons of turmeric, fresh lemon juice, raw garlic and onion and salt and pepper to taste. I blended it well and let it sit for a few minutes while my dish finished cooking. See what a pretty little bright yellow raw curry sauce it is. Here are the ingredients again:

Raw Curry Sauce

1 clove garlic
1/2 small onion
1/3 inch nub of ginger with peelings intact
4 tbsp turmeric powder
1/4 cup organic kefir
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp each of toasted and ground cardamom, cumin seed and coriander
juice from 1/2 lemon

When the cauliflower was just tender enough, I turned off the heat  Let it cool just a bit so the heat wouldn't kill my turmeric, then I poured the "raw curry sauce" over my chicken and cauliflower, stirred it well, then served it. Ideally, you'd have fresh cilantro (or parsley) for garnish.

Some jasmine rice would have been nice, but if I can resist it and just eat meat and veggies, I try to choose that as often as possible.

This was a delectable meal, and just what the doctor ordered. I felt better after taking in all those antioxidants and superfood nutrients.

To recap, what makes this a superfood dish? Well, let me count the ways:
  1. the use of high antioxidant spices, including the superfood spice turmeric and that lovely bit of serrano (though I wish I'd used more of it)
  2. the use of garlic, onion and ginger and especially the addition of raw garlic, onion and ginger
  3. the use of kefir
  4. the use of a healthy brassica like organic cauliflower
  5. adding a small portion of organic free-range chicken to a large amount of vegetable
  6. the use of a healthy oil like unrefined avocado oil which can handle high-heat browning and is not a refined vegetable oil like soy, corn or canola (which it turns out are so bad for us)
  7. the absence of potatoes, rice, grains, etc.
It's also practical and easy and not much of a mess of a dish. It all cooked in one pot and was served in one little bowl. I could have frozen or refrigerated the leftovers, but my daughter and son-in-law came over and polished off my remains.

Good meal to end a good day--and hopefully keep the doctor away.


I tried this a second time this week with carrots instead of cauliflower. I made a few changes. I upped the spice quotient. I put twice as much turmeric in the raw curry sauce and twice as much lemon juice. Instead of cooking six cloves of garlic with the chicken, I put almost a whole head of garlic. I put no seasoning other than salt and black pepper with the cooking chicken. I put all the coriander, cardamom, ginger and turmeric into the Ninja/blender with the onions and garlic--so none of them would be destroyed by the high heat carmelizing of the chicken, onions and garlic. In the sauce, instead of one clove of raw garlic, there are three small cloves. I also added sliced carrots into my Ninja to make the raw curry sauce have an orang-er tint and contain pureed raw carrot. So it was a raw carrot sauce, in a sense, poured of cooked carrots. Then I poured my raw sauce over my slightly cooled chicken, carrot, onions and garlic when it was ready, stirred and served. The carrots made this dish sweeter than when I prepared it with cauliflower. I liked the sweetness and it allowed me to get away with upping the ante with the spices.

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