Friday, May 05, 2017

Sheet Pan Tandoori Chicken

Does anyone else read the blog Smitten Kitchen? If you don't, you should. Deb Perelman is entertaining and thoughtful, and her recipes, at least those I have tested, have all been uniformly delicious.

I'm normally not a quick cook kind of person. I don't mind making dishes that are somewhat fussy or use lots of weird ingredients or techniques. After all, I only cook on weekends when I have a decent amount of free time. But there are times when I don't want to be bothered, but yet don't want to go out to dinner. And that's when a dish like Deb's sheet pan tikka is perfect.

I made the dish pretty much as she wrote it, except I changed the name. Tikka refers to small pieces of meat, not whole bone-in thighs. My use of "tandoori" is probably just as misleading, since the cooking is done in a typical home oven and not a cylindrical one made of clay. However, I think "tandoori chicken" really gets across how the end result both looks and tastes. Unlike commercial tandoori chicken, there is no red food coloring in this recipe; the red color is the result of a bit of turmeric, some cayenne, and possibly a chemical reaction between the yogurt marinade and the heat of the oven. In any case, the dish is damn good.

And so fricken easy! First the chicken is popped into a simple spice and yogurt marinade for a few hours, then it's placed on a sheet pan with potatoes and cauliflower simply dressed with olive oil, salt, and cumin seeds. Baked for just under an hour, the chicken comes out super moist, with crisp skin and tender veg. Deb garnished her chicken with a flurry of parsley/mint/cilantro and some lightly pickled red onions, and so did I. I didn't want to mess with perfection.

Of course, now I have other ideas for similar dishes. Perhaps roasting lemon slices with the chicken and potatoes. Subbing brussels sprouts for the cauliflower, maybe celery root for the potato. Fennel might be nice as well. The mind boggles.

Sheet Pan Tandoori Chicken (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 3/4-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno, chopped roughly
1/2 cup whole-milk yogurt
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4-5 thighs)
4-5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
1 small head cauliflower, cut into 3/4-inch-wide florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Thinly sliced red onion (optional)
Lemon wedges (optional)
Chopped herbs (parsley, cilantro, mint) (optional)

Combine ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and yogurt in a mini prep food processor and whiz to a puree. Add the spices and whiz to combine. Scrape into a gallon zip-top plastic bag and add the chicken. Seal the bag, squeezing out as much air as possible, then squoosh the marinade around the chicken to coat it. Refrigerate for at least an hour and up to a day.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Put the potatoes and cauliflower on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and cumin seeds, and toss with your hands to coat the veg evenly. Make spaces in the potatoes for the chicken parts. Take the chicken out of the marinade and place on the pan. Roast for 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and stir the veg around to make sure they're cooking evenly. Return the pan to the oven for another 20 minutes, until everything is cooked through. Garnish and serve right from the pan.

You can pickle the onion, if you want, by putting it in a bowl or jar with lemon juice and a few pinches of salt, maybe a little sugar. Toss to coat, cover bowl, and set aside for at least half an hour (stronger onions might need more time).

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