Cooking for Hugo: Corinne Trang's Korean Barbecued Chicken


Dearest readers, I did not mean to leave you hanging for, uh, almost three weeks. Please accept my apologies and my offering: a recipe for "barbecued" Korean chicken that I discovered in this cookbook that's been on my shelf since 2002 when I found it in the giveaway pile of an old job, but never actually cracked until a few months ago.

I don't know how I landed on this one recipe seeing as there far too many to count in this book (it's sort of overwhelming, actually), but somehow I did and the first time I made it, Hugo ate almost the entire panful of chicken while Max and I desperately tried to pick off pieces for ourselves, fending off the screeching wild animal each time, and every time I've made it since then it's been nothing sort of a roaring success. So. You need to know about this. Consider it my penance.

Continue reading "Cooking for Hugo: Corinne Trang's Korean Barbecued Chicken" »

Bon Appetit's Slow-Roasted Chicken

(Before the photo police come a-calling, let me just put a disclaimer right up here at the front: I took this photo with my phone on Sunday evening, just before dinner, and I know it's sort of hideous, but I had absolutely no intention of blogging about it and so didn't think to pull out my real camera and anyway, even if I had, it is a proven fact of life that shooting meat is, shall we say, challenging and leave it at that.)

There! Now let's get down to brass tacks.

THIS CHICKEN. It may have the worst name in recipe-naming history (I'm renaming it Slow-Roasted Chicken), but that doesn't even matter, not one little bit, because OMG THIS CHICKEN. (Yes, I know with the all-caps, but this chicken deserves them plus several exclamation marks and a lot of underlining and four-letter words, too.)

The recipe comes from the current issue of Bon Appetit and even if you think that a new recipe for roast chicken is snoozeworthy, you need to know about this. Like, REALLY. (People, I have feelings about this chicken and they are not equivocal!)

Instead of roasting your bird at high heat or slathered with butter or barded with bacon, here you put together a little herb-spice rub (fennel, hot pepper, marjoram, thyme and salt), add some olive oil and then rub the bird all over with that mixture, sort of as if you were giving it a relaxing salt scrub. You stuff the bird with a whole head of garlic cut in half, a lemon cut into quarters and more marjoram and thyme. Then you put the bird on top of some thyme sprigs on a baking sheet, surround it with potatoes (I added carrots and parsnips) and put it in a low oven, 300° F, for two to three hours.

When the chicken is done (I put my oven just a little higher - at 160° C instead of 150° C - so it was done a little after two hours - but I had to take the vegetables out earlier, so definitely pay attention to what's going on in your oven around the 90-minute mark if you're going with the original temperature), it is meltingly tender and the joints have practically dissolved. The skin is irresistibly crisp, but you have none of the crazy chicken-fat smoking out of the oven that crispy skin usually requires. The roasted vegetables have shrunk and sweetened and are infused with herby, savory chicken fat. It's pretty much the greatest Sunday dinner ever.

But I'm not even done yet!

Because, believe it or not, this roast chicken, as delicious and perfect as it is freshly roasted, goes straight into the stratosphere as leftovers. I mean, cold roast chicken of any kind is tough to beat - it's just one of those home-run foods that everyone loves (right? RIGHT?) - but this cold roast chicken is unparalleled. A day or two of sitting in the fridge and it's pretty much the best thing ever.

Bonus proof-that-this-chicken-is-the-chicken-to-end-all-chickens story: This evening, while I was pulling the remaining meat off the carcass to repurpose as Indonesian chicken salad, Hugo literally grabbed the entire breast that I had just lifted off the bones out of my hands (I'd already put some shredded meat on his plate!) and proceeded to devour it, with his hands, like a very cute and yet slightly terrifying and hungry little caveman.

Slow-Roasted Herbed Chicken
Serves 4

1 teaspoon ground fennel
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh marjoram; plus 4 sprigs, divided (I used dried and skipped the sprigs)
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme; plus 4 sprigs, divided
1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 3½–4 pound chicken
1 lemon, quartered
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed, halved, or quartered if large

1. Preheat oven to 300°F (150 C°). Mix the fennel, red pepper, chopped or dried marjoram, chopped thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and 3 tablespoons oil in a small bowl. Rub chicken inside and out with spice mixture. Stuff chicken with lemon, garlic, 2 marjoram sprigs, and 2 thyme sprigs. Tie legs together with kitchen twine.

2. Toss potatoes with remaining oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Push potatoes to edges of baking sheet and scatter remaining 2 marjoram and 2 thyme sprigs in center; place chicken on herbs. Roast, turning potatoes and basting chicken every hour, until skin is browned, meat is extremely tender, and potatoes are golden brown and very soft, 2-3 hours. Let chicken rest at least 10 minutes before carving.

Fuchsia Dunlop's Braised Chicken with Dried Shiitake Mushrooms

Fuchsia dunlop's braised chicken

I have been on a cookbook-buying bender lately, even though we really don't have room for any more books and I already don't cook enough out of the books that I do own. There is just so much good stuff out right now. (I promise to do a post or two on new cookbooks and my cookbook collection in general soon. Don't you love knowing what other people's cookbook shelves are like? More fascinating than the bathroom cabinet!)

Fuchsia Dunlop's Every Grain of Rice is my latest baby, one I'd had on my wishlist since it was first announced. I own every one of her books and adore them all (even though I have yet to cook from any of them...until now). In fact, Fuchsia could take to writing cereal box copy and I'd probably buy every last thing her words adorned. I was thinking about it the other night and realized that, in my opinion, Fuchsia's the best living food writer out there these days. She makes everything she writes about - stinky tofu! cooking school in Sichuan province! chewy chicken cartilage! - utterly captivating.

Every Grain of Rice is Fuchsia's most recent book and it focuses on simple Chinese home cooking, with recipes sourced mostly from the south of the country. It's vegetable-heavy and beautifully photographed and, in short, will have you keeping your local Asian grocer in business as you keep trotting back for more ingredients, like black vinegar and dark soy sauce and dried shiitake mushrooms and chili-bean paste. (Actually, none of these things should cost very much at all. Which is sort of the point.)

Fuchsia's evangelical about the resourcefulness of Chinese home cooking, how light on the wallet and the waistline it is and what a shame it is that China's newfound wealth is corrupting a centuries' old reliance on simple things like vegetables and rice and a little bit of protein (far, far less than our Western diet could fathom). A bottle of black Chinkiang vinegar bought at my local Korean grocery the other day cost me less than 3 euros and it'll last me quite some time. So while you'll have to stock your pantry somewhat to get started with Chinese cooking, it's actually a very economical way to eat.

Reconstituted shiitake musrooms

The recipe that jumped out at me on my last perusal through the book was a braised dish of chicken and dried shiitake mushrooms. Most of the recipes in the book require a wok, but while I actually own an authentic hammered-steel wok given to us for our wedding by a friend in Hong Kong, I don't have a gas stove. So the wok sits patiently in the basement awaiting the day that we move to an apartment that still has a gas line (not an easy feat in Berlin). And I try to find recipes in Every Grain of Rice that could conceivably be made in a different pan. (And yes, a flat-bottomed wok for an electric stove is at the top of my shopping list now.)

This braise sounded perfect - I was supposed to stir-fry the chicken and aromatics to start, but the bulk of the cooking was going to be braising. I figured this was one dish where I could circumvent the missing wok without too much trouble.

Chicken and shiitake mushrooms

I've always been intimidated by Chinese cooking, just as I have been with Indian, for fear that I'd never be able to approximate the flavors and techniques of authentic Chinese food at home. But once again - ding ding! - it's nowhere near as complicated as it seems. What's crucial, besides assembling the correct pantry, is doing all the chopping and preparing before you start cooking. Because the cooking itself goes at lightning speed. The work is mostly beforehand.

In this case, you soak and chop dried shiitake mushrooms, chop chicken thighs into pieces roughly the same size as the mushrooms, peel and slice ginger and chop and bruise scallions. And that's it. After that's done, you put the pot on the stove and fairly fly through the rest of the recipe.

The chicken is briefly stir-fried before the ginger and scallions are added to the pan to let their aromas unfold. You pour in a bit of Shaoxing wine, the soaked mushrooms and their liquor, a bit more water, soy sauce, sugar and salt. This is cooked together for half an hour, during which time the broth goes a deep, rich brown. It's very exciting. At the end, you take off the lid from the pot and let the braising liquid reduce slightly.

Braised chicken with dried shiitake mushrooms

What you're left with are chunks of tender chicken, thoroughly infused with the aromatic flavors of ginger, scallions and soy. The mushrooms are silky-soft. And the broth - the broth! - is so good that I wished I'd made an entire potful of it. It was like chicken soup that had died and gone to heaven?


Fuchsia Dunlop's Braised Chicken with Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
Serves 4 as part of a larger Chinese meal or 2 as a main with rice and a vegetable dish

8 dried shiitake mushrooms
4 boneless chicken thighs
2 scallions
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
About 200 ml chicken stock or water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water to cover for at least 30 minutes. Then cut them into quarters, reserving their soaking water. Cut the chicken into similarly-sized pieces. Cut the scallions into 2-inch sections and separate the white and green parts. Crush the whites slightly with the side of your knife handle. Slice the green parts thinly and set aside.

2. Add the cooking oil to a seasoned wok or braising pan over high heat. Then add the chicken and stir-fry for a few minutes until lightly browned. When the chicken is nearly done, add the ginger and scallion whites and allow the hot oil to release their fragrance.

3. Add the Shaoxing wine, stir a few times, then add the mushrooms, their soaking water and enough stock or water to make up 300 ml. Add the sugar, soy sauce and salt to taste.

4. Bring to a boil, then cover the wok or pot, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid, increase the heat and reduce the liquid to thicken the sauce. Adjust the seasoning, add the sliced scallion greens and sesame oil and serve.

Jenny Rosenstrach's Pulled Chicken Sandwiches

Pulled chicken sandwich
When we were in Portland for one day last year on the book tour, our hotel was just a short walk from a square filled with food trucks. Once we'd unpacked, changed teeny tiny baby Hugo (sob!) and put on our walking shoes, we headed out for lunch. I wouldn't have been able to eat from more than one truck, but you should know that my husband's appetite belies his narrow frame. The man can eat and he certainly wouldn't let my wussy little appetite slow him down. Thanks to him, we were able to try things from several food trucks: poutine, Hawaiian barbecue and our absolute favorite, pulled chicken and coleslaw from a food truck specializing in Southern food.

Since then, that pulled chicken has come up more than once in conversation, mentioned in hushed, longing tones. But funnily enough, it never occurred to me that I could just make it myself. It turns out that I have a blind spot when it comes to meat. I sort of always forget that it's there, you know? Nine times out of ten, when I go to the grocery store, I don't even remember to go near the meat display.

But Jenny at Dinner: A Love Story mentioned pulled chicken sandwiches recently in a post about getting back into the cooking swing of things once the summer ends and, a few clicks later, there was her recipe staring back at me sweetly, looking all easy and satisfying and freezable, three words that get me hot and bothered these days. (I am such a cliché. I also cried after Hugo's first haircut the other day.)

Pulled chicken

True to her blog's mission, Jenny's recipe is such a cinch, but it totally delivers. You can used store-bought barbecue sauce (which I did - opting for one without any stabilizers, preservatives or high-fructose corn syrup) or make your own. You mix it up with some water, vinegar, a chipotle pepper, garlic, onion and bay, then poach the chicken in that mixture until it's cooked. The only real work you have to do is shred the chicken once it's cooked. Then you reduce the cooking liquid until it's saucy and stir the shredded meat back into it. Done.

What you're left with is a big pile of delicious meat that can be served for dinner right then and there, still leaving you with enough to freeze for a rainy day. The pulled chicken is sweet and spicy and delicious, as good forked up from a plate as it is piled high into a sandwich topped with cooling slaw. I used a mix of white and dark meat, because I like the flavor of dark meat, but Jenny's original recipe uses only breast meat.

I served the pulled chicken with coleslaw on hamburger buns to my mother-in-law, who was mightily impressed. I put a few shreds on Hugo's plate, figuring he'd find it too spicy or strange, but he gobbled them up like a good little American. (He preferred to daintily drop on the floor the shreds of cole slaw his grandmother gave him.) The rest I froze for when Max is home on the weekend and we are hungry and feeling nostalgic about our amazing trip to the US.

Money in the bank.

Jenny Rosenstrach's Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
Serves 6 at least

1 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 chipotle pepper in adobo
6 to 8 boneless chicken breasts or a mix of white and dark meat (approximately 2 pounds)
Potato rolls or hamburger buns
Cole slaw or pickled vegetables

1. In a large heavy pot, combine barbecue sauce, cider vinegar, onion, garlic, bay leaf and chipotle. Add chicken and enough water to cover (about 2 cups), stirring a few times.

2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pot and shred. Bring the sauce to a boil until it thickens and reduces, another 10 minutes. Stir in chicken.

3. Serve on rolls with cole slaw or pickled vegetables. If freezing, allow to cool, then spoon into freezer bags, flatten slightly for easier thawing later, and freeze.

Bon Appetit's Roasted Chicken Legs with Lemon and Oregano

Roasted chicken with lemon and oregano

Every so often a little recipe comes along that is just a sheer stroke of brilliance. I love recipes like that. I live for recipes like that. The most recent one to make me do a double-take of glee is this one, from Bon Appetit's December 2012 issue (and shot by my friend, Brian Ferry!)

Okay, so you know how most chicken recipes make you first brown the chicken and then remove it from the pan to do a bunch of other stuff, then you have to put the chicken back in and yadda yadda yadda, it's done? I don't know why they bug me so much, but these kinds of recipes do.

Actually, maybe I do know why:

1. I am lazy (but you already knew this).

2. Mess, mess, messy. I dislike spattering cooking fat. 

And 3. Okay, fine, in addition to being lazy, I am also impatient and never brown the chicken long enough, so it's always a little flabby instead of perfectly crisp and wonderful.

This recipe, the darling thing, is all about making sure that the skin never veers anywhere even close to flabby. What you do is put the chicken, skin-side down, in a pan with a little bit of oil and then let it cook for a good long while without touching it, over medium heat, so that the fat renders out, slowly crispening and crispening the chicken skin (yes, I did just make that word up).

Pan-roasting chicken legs

As it cooks, you can periodically get rid of the cooking fat, if too much of it renders out, but that actually never happened to my chicken. Once the chicken is halfway done, you throw in a whole bunch of lemon slices and stick the whole pan in a hot oven, where the lemons soften and the chicken roasts until the skin is perfectly crisp and of a deeply lacquered loveliness.

How lovely? SO LOVELY:

Roasted chicken legs

Then, all that's left to do is to remove that lovely chicken to a plate and scrape a bunch of different things (garlic, minced onion or shallot and oregano - the recipe calls for fresh, but I used dried and it was fine) into the pan that you cook on the stove top for a little while. In goes wine and broth, or just broth, if you'd prefer (which is what I did) and then you reduce this to a nice, saucy consistency and pour it over your lovely chicken and eat right away because oh my goodness it smells so good you simply cannot wait another second no sirree bob.

Lemon oregano sauce

The lemons mellow and sweeten in the cooking process, and the soft lemons and velvety sauce contrast beautifully with the shatteringly crisp chicken skin. This was seriously delectable chicken, people. I'll never brown a piece of chicken any other way again.

(Note: The original recipe calls for deboned chicken thighs but I made it with bone-in chicken legs, cut through at the joint, and just added a few minutes onto all the cooking times.)

Roasted Chicken Legs with Lemon and Oregano
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Serves 3 to 4

1 lemon
large or 8 small skin-on, bone-in chicken legs, cut in two
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon
olive oil

sprigs oregano

small onion, minced

1 small
garlic clove, minced

teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
, optional
1/2 to 3/4
cup low-sodium chicken broth (larger amount if not using wine)

1. Heat oven to 425°. Very thinly slice half of lemon; discard any seeds. Cut remaining lemon half into 2 wedges. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

2. Coat a large room-temperature skillet with the oil. Add chicken, skin side down. Place skillet over medium heat and cook, letting skin render and brown, until chicken is cooked halfway through, about 10 minutes. If there is a lot of fat in the pan, pour off the excess fat to maintain a thin coating in pan.

3. Scatter half of lemon slices over and between chicken. Transfer skillet to oven, leaving chicken skin side down. Roast until chicken is cooked through, skin is crisp, and lemon slices on bottom of skillet are caramelized, about 15 minutes.

4. Transfer chicken pieces, skin side up, and some of the lemon slices from bottom of skillet to a warm platter. (Leave a few softened lemon slices in the skillet.) Return skillet to medium heat. Add oregano sprigs, shallot, garlic, and red pepper flakes; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

5. Remove skillet from heat. If using, add wine; cook over medium heat until reduced by half, 1-2 minutes. Add broth; cook until reduced and thickened, 5 to 6 minutes. Squeeze 1 lemon wedge over and season sauce with salt, pepper, and juice from remaining lemon wedge, if desired. Return chicken to skillet, skin side up, to rewarm. Serve topped with caramelized lemon slices.

Melissa Clark's Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes

Chicken curry with sweet potatoes

Sometimes a recipe so good comes along that it threatens to blow everything else you've ever eaten clean out of the water. Melissa Clark's chicken curry is that recipe.

I don't even know what else to say! That's how good it is.

Okay, here's something: It is a measure of my wifely devotion that after I made it last week, I actually put some aside for my husband to have when he came home on Friday night. Forget being the sole caretaker of our child five days a week, 24 hours a day. Giving up a portion of this delicious-beyond-words curry was the real sacrifice.

Chopped ginger, scallions, chile and garlic

Now, Melissa paired the recipe with a very convincing argument that, when in the mood for chicken, one should always buy a whole animal and break it down ourselves. And that's usually what I do. But the day I wanted to make this, I passed by a butcher at the market who happened to be selling whole chicken legs, and since I like dark meat best anyway, I decided to buy three of those and have the butcher cut them into two pieces each, drumstick and thigh.

What's important here is that you use bone-in chicken, between six and eight pieces of it. It's also important that you use a real Thai curry paste. I bought Mae Ploy and am currently taking suggestions on how to use the rest of it up, please and thank you very much.

Chicken curry

For the curry, you make a wonderfully aromatic base, after browning the chicken pieces on both sides, with scallions and ginger and garlic and chiles (I used just one jalapeño and the curry nearly blew Max's head off, so proceed with caution if you want more) and curry paste. Then you chop in a couple sweet potatoes and put the browned chicken on top. In goes a little water and then, once the pot is boiling, you put the whole thing in the oven. Yay! I love recipes like that. Then I get to clean everything up and I don't have to worry about stirring or things boiling over or anything else.

Once the chicken is done, there are really only a few things left to do.

A. You must reduce the sauce until it's creamy and, er, sauce-like. (Removing the chicken and potatoes beforehand so they don't overcook and fall apart.)

B. You must be sure to toast coconut and mustard seeds and not let them burn. Please, whatever you do, DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. (Forgive the yelling, people! It's just that this topping totally completes me and the dish!)

C. You must be sure to have a few wedges of lime around. You must! In a pinch, you may use lemon, I guess. But skip either and YOU MIGHT AS WELL SKIP THE ENTIRE RECIPE! (I'm sorry, I really am. But I'm kind of worked up about this right now?)

D. And you must have some cilantro on hand. (Even if you hate it, like me! You need it here. Promise me?)

Toasted coconut and mustard seed

Ooh, now's the best part. Pour the reduced sauce over the chicken and potatoes. Then sprinkle the toasted coconut and mustard seed mixture over the serving dish (or, if you have guests, you could have them do this to their own portions). Squeeze lime on top, add the cilantro, and then help yourself and start eating. Just try and see if you can stop at only one serving.

Then, once you've done that, please tell me what words you would use to describe the dish because, honestly, nothing I can come up with seems close to doing it justice right now.

Okay, one last try:

Total perfection!

Best thing I've eaten all year!


Melissa Clark's Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes
Serves 4

1 (3 1/2-pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
Black pepper, as needed
2 tablespoons peanut, safflower or vegetable oil
1/4 cup finely chopped scallion
1 1/2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated (1 1/2 tablespoons)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 (15.5-ounce) can coconut milk
2 medium sweet potatoes (1 pound), peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
3/4 cup coconut flakes
1 tablespoon black or brown mustard seeds
Fresh cilantro leaves
Lime wedges

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil. Brown chicken pieces, in batches if necessary, until golden all over, 6 to 8 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken to a plate.

3. Stir scallion, ginger, garlic and chiles into pot and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until soft, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in curry paste and cook 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk and sweet potatoes. Arrange chicken pieces on top of potatoes, placing breast meat on top. Pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of chicken (about 1/2 cup). Bring to a boil. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, in a large dry skillet over medium heat, toast coconut flakes until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mustard seeds and toast until they begin to pop, 1 minute more. Transfer to a bowl and season with a pinch of salt.

5. Transfer chicken and sweet potatoes to a platter. Return Dutch oven to the stove and simmer over medium-high heat until cooking liquid has thickened to a saucelike consistency, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour over chicken and potatoes. Sprinkle with the coconut and mustard seed mixture and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.

Nigel Slater's Chicken Curry


My sweets, I have a confession to make. My name is Luisa and last weekend, I used commercial curry powder.

Yes. I know. I know that that stuff is to be shunned, that really we should all be making our own masala spice mixtures, that the whole concept of chicken curry is colonialistic and ignorant of a huge country's varied cuisines. I know. But.

Have you ever made Nigel Slater's "Chicken with Spices and Cream" from Real Fast Food? (Sneaky guy, see how he evades the whole concept of "chicken curry" entirely with that recipe title?)

Because I sort of semi-guarantee that if you do make it, you will find yourself looking at your abominable jar of curry powder with entirely different eyes. One of my dinner guests, a lady who is newly pregnant with twins and also an expert on Things That Taste Good, threatened to return to my house the next day to eat the remaining sauce (the recipe makes a lot of sauce, for which you will be very grateful).

(I didn't tell her that I would barricade the doors if she dared to do so, because I had a hot date with the leftover sauce myself that would and could not be missed.)

(I blame my greed entirely on the baby. Entirely.)

Perhaps you see where this is going: Authenticity be damned. (The horror!)


Now that we've gotten beyond the whole curry powder thing, let me tell you about this recipe. It's brilliant. First of all, it takes no time to make. And second of all, it is so good. (Are these two sentences the two most over-used sentences on this entire blog-thingy? My apologies. But at least my priorities are clear, yes?) Third of all, or second-of-all's addendum: Despite the curry powder and the recipe's simplicity, this chicken with spices and cream really does taste like Indian food which, for those of us stranded in this wonderful city that has so much to offer but is entirely bereft of good Indian food (ENTIRELY BEREFT AND I AM NOT EXAGGERATING, BEHOLD THE ALL CAPS), is a bleeding godsend.

I love making this recipe on weeknights, but also for dinner parties, because you can make it an hour or two in advance and then simply reheat the pan when your guests arrive, and also because it's the kind of thing that you can make almost with your eyes closed, which is my Dinner Party Modus Operandi.

You can tailor the recipe to your taste by adding a good shake or two of cayenne, for example, if you like things spicier (though the curry powder will probably have a bit of heat, too), dumping a few cupfuls of frozen peas into the mix shortly before the end of the cooking time or sprinkling chopped cilantro on top for a bit more authenticity.

As I said earlier, the recipe makes an enormous amount of sauce, but it is mind-bendingly delicious, all flecked with shreds of tomato and meltingly soft onions and it's silky with cream, but not heavy, if that's what you're wondering. Pregnant or not, it makes a rather wonderful lunch heated up and poured over leftover rice the next day.

Lest any of you get the wrong idea, let me just say that I own several Indian cookbooks, have a freezer stocked with curry leaves and ground cumin, that my father regularly offers to bring over dried mango powder and asafoetida when he comes to visit and that I normally would be the last person to recommend a recipe that to me, at least, seems like the Indian equivalent of using jarred tomato sauce in an Italian lasagne.

But this just tastes so good. Okay? It's my only defense.

Nigel Slater's Chicken Curry
Serves 4

4 chicken pieces, breast halves or thighs
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons curry powder, from a recently opened jar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped (I used canned tomatoes, seeds and all)
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
Juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Rub salt and pepper into chicken. Heat butter and oil in a shallow pan, add the chicken and cook until the skin is golden. Turn and add the onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until soft, about 7 to 8 minutes. Stir every once in a while.

2. Stir in the curry powder and cinnamon. Cook for 4 minutes, until the spices are cooked. Add tomatoes and stock, then simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked right through, about 15 minutes.

3. Stir in the cream and taste the sauce, adjusting salt and pepper, if needed. Add the lemon juice. Simmer for 1 minute, then serve hot with basmati rice.