Butter Chicken

by Anne Maxfield on August 28, 2017

Accidental Locavore Butter Chicken PlatedChicken Tikka Masala is a big favorite in our house and lately I’ve come across a couple of recipes for Butter Chicken, a close relative (or the same dish depending on who to believe).

I think the big difference is that Tikka Massala is marinated in yogurt, while Butter Chicken can be made on the fly.

The two recipes I was looking at were from both ends of the time spectrum—one was ready in about 30 minutes, the other was in a slow cooker and took 5-6 hours. I opted for speed.

Butter Chicken

  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 2 pounds chicken breasts cut into 1” chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 14 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lime and cilantro for garnish

Accidental Locavore Butter Chicken CookingIn a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons of butter. Working in batches, add the chicken and brown on all sides. It doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through. Set the browned chicken aside as it’s done.

Reduce the heat to medium and add another 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften—about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, garam masala, ginger, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. Stir to combine and cook for about 45 seconds.

Add the tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes and add the cream.

Bring back to a simmer and add the chicken. Cook for 10-15 minutes on a low simmer.

Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Garnish with lime and cilantro, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: Easy and delicious! Frank liked this so much, he requested that I make it again the other night.

Both times I’ve used boneless skinless chicken thighs since I’m not a white meat fan and served it over basmati rice. If you soak the rice before you start prepping everything, and start cooking it after the chicken has browned, your timing should be perfect.

We’ll have to start stocking cans of tomato sauce and pints of cream and soon I’ll have to figure out what a good veg would be to serve with it. Any ideas?



Greek Egg-Lemon Soup: Avgolemono

by Anne Maxfield on February 23, 2017

Accidental Locavore Egg-Lemon SoupEgg-Lemon Soup is my go-to soup when I’m not feeling well.

To me, it’s more interesting than most chicken noodle soups and if you’re making your own, much quicker.

Egg-lemon soup also has the advantage that you know exactly what’s in it (all five ingredients), unlike canned soups.

So, I pull out that classic from the 1980’s The Silver Palate Cookbook (still available if you never got a copy) and have soup in 30 minutes. Makes 6 cups.

Greek Egg-Lemon Soup:

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup long grain rice
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice or more to taste
  • salt and white pepper to taste

Pour the broth into a pot, and bring it to a boil.

Add the rice, reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for about 25 minutes until the rice is just tender.

While the rice is cooking, whisk the egg yolks and the lemon juice together in a small bowl until well combined.

When the rice is done, remove soup from the heat, and slowly ladle 2 cups of hot broth into the lemon/egg mixture. Whisk to combine, and pour back into the pot. Stir.

Return the soup to medium heat, and cook until soup is just steaming. Do not let it reach a boil. Season to taste. Serve and enjoy!

Eggs for Egg-Lemon SoupMy verdict: As I said in the intro, it’s my go-to when I’m sick. You’ve usually got all the ingredients on hand, it’s easy and tastes great!

I often leave the pepper out, but if you’re going to use it, try to use white pepper, it just looks better.

Some chicken diced up would add protein and you often see this made with little lamb meatballs, but that’s beyond my pay-grade when I’m sick.

And if this doesn’t work, there’s always albondigas.

What’s your go-to cold remedy?



The Lechon Party

by Anne Maxfield on July 25, 2016

Accidental Locavore A Plate of LechonPossibly lechon is as traditional a July 4th dish as a hotdog.

After all, the Philippines, where lechon, or roast suckling pig is the national dish, celebrated their independence (from the US) on July 4th.

Our friend Zhu Zhu decided that a dinner featuring lechon, or roast suckling pig, would be the perfect way to celebrate the holiday weekend.

We met at the Purple Yam in Brooklyn where a large table had been set up in the back garden. It was an eclectic, fun and hungry group as is usual with Zhu Zhu’s gatherings.

Once everyone arrived, out came a beautifully golden brown pig.

Accidental Locavore LechonThe chef/owner of Purple Yam, Romy Dorotan presided over the careful carving of the pig. He encouraged everyone to dig in while the pieces of skin were still crisp.

There was a big bowl of yellow rice and two sauces for the lechon.  One was a liver sauce which uses the pig’s liver and bread crumbs. It’s rather like a thinned down pâte and went well with the pork. The other choice (and my preference) was a soy sauce with ginger and chiles.

Accidental Locavore Lechon SaucesThe skin was paper thin and crispy like a delicious potato chip. If you got a piece that had a little fat attached, it was heaven! I ended up with one of the ears, and feeling just a little guilty (it’s my dog’s favorite treat), gave it a try. All I can say was that it was great-more crunchy skin!

The Accidental Locavore has never had lechon before, so I have nothing to compare it to, but this pig was perfectly spiced, the meat had great flavor and was so tender it melted in your mouth. A high standard for future lechon and definitely worth a trip to Brooklyn!

As I was writing this, I wondered–lechon is the national dish of the Philippines, then what is the national dish of the US?

Google it and you’ll find it’s…nothing. What would be your choice for our national dish?



Making Perfect Basmati Rice

by Anne Maxfield on April 21, 2016

Accidental Locavore Basmati Rice The Accidental Locavore always makes rice, be it long grain, jasmine, basmati, the same way – twice as much water as rice, a little salt. Bring the water to a boil, add the rice, turn the heat down as low as you can, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Works every time. If I remember, or want to get fancy, substitute chicken broth for the water. Mexican style, blend some cilantro, and anything green – a poblano pepper, a tomatillo etc. – with the chicken broth and proceed as usual.

So when I was looking at Made in India and she had a recipe for “Perfect Basmati Rice” I was skeptical. How much better was this than my normal way? There are a lot of cultures that are really particular about how rice is cooked, much like how the French judge a cook on how perfect an omelet they turn out, but working harder to make “perfect” rice wasn’t on my bucket list.

However, there’s nothing like a challenge to get me to do something and I was curious to see if this method/recipe was going to make a difference. Feeds four and here’s how it goes:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 ½ cups of just boiled water
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ¾ teaspoon salt

Wash the rice in a few changes of cold water until the water runs clear. Let it soak in a bowl of cold water for at least 10 minutes, but 30 is better, then drain.

In a separate pot, boil the water.

Put the oil in a wide bottom pan (that has a lid) on medium heat. Add the rice and salt and stir to coat all the rice with the oil. Pour in the boiling water, turn up the heat and bring the rice to a “fierce” boil.

Put the lid on, turn the heat down to low and simmer the rice for 10 minutes. Do not take the lid off!

When the 10 minutes is up, turn the heat off and let the rice rest for another 10 minutes. Just before serving, dot with butter if you like and fluff with a fork. Serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Cooked BasmatiMy verdict: As hard as it is to admit, this was much better than my normal basmati rice! Definitely worth the extra time (which is really just planning ahead). The grains of rice were long and perfectly cooked. You do have to be careful to soak the rice in a fairly large dish and drain it well. The second time, I tried to take a short cut and my rice wasn’t well drained (or soaked) and it wasn’t as good as the first time. A pot with a glass lid helps to see what’s going on, since she tells you that removing the lid is a definite no-no. I’m even going to see if this method (with longer cooking time) will work with brown basmati rice.