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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chicken Curry - From Leftovers

Photograph by Mark Staubitz, at Teslacon II
(The blue pot soon to hold chicken curry.)
Mrs. Beeton and many of her contemporary cookbook writers were very concerned with using leftover food. In an age lacking refrigeration or the ability to freeze leftover food, the remedy was to create recipes to use that cooked meat, like Chicken Croquettes, meat pies, and stews of cooked meat. These recipes highlight one of the main drives of cooking in the Victorian era, a desire—and indeed a need—for food utilization. Sausages, terrines, and pâtés all see their beginnings in this need to utilize all the parts of a meat animal, and recipes like the one below (and a hundred different variations on hashed meat) come from a need to make something of the very valuable food items left after a meal.

954. INGREDIENTS - 3 or 4 shallots, 1 oz. of butter, 1 teaspoonful of flour, white sauce; pepper, salt, and pounded mace to taste; 1/2 teaspoonful of pounded sugar, the remains of cold roast fowls, the yolks of 2 eggs, egg, and bread crumbs.
Mode.—Mince the fowl, carefully removing all skin and bone, and fry the shallots in the butter; add the minced fowl, dredge in the flour, put in the pepper, salt, mace, pounded sugar, and sufficient white sauce to moisten it; stir to it the yolks of 2 well-beaten eggs, and set it by to cool. Then make the mixture up into balls, egg and bread-crumb them, and fry a nice brown. They may be served on a border of mashed potatoes, with gravy or sauce in the center.
Time.—10 minutes to fry the balls.
Seasonable at any time.
"The remains of cold roast fowls" nowadays could be replaced with any kind of cooked chicken meat, from the rotisserie chickens sold in many grocery stores to individual chicken breasts seasoned and cooked off for this express recipe.

In my preparations of this recipe, I have used roast chickens that I bought expressly for the purpose, first at a local supermarket in Detroit, not the best-provisioned place; then at Copp's, a similar type of store in Madison, Wisconsin (where I presented this recipe as part of my Steampunk Cookery panel at Teslacon II.)

This recipe is cooked more or less directly from Mrs. Beeton, as far as the ingredients are concerned. The main difference is applying a modern understanding of cooking techniques, to build more layers of flavor into the dish and create a delicious and complex combination of sweet and spicy flavors that is sure to please—and is a little more elegant than the simpler chicken curry I've written about before.

Curried Chicken — Cold Poultry Cookery
2 oz Butter
2 large Onions, julienne cut
1 Roast Chicken, cold, meat shredded
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
1 whole Granny Smith Apple, peeled, cored, chopped
1 Tablespoon Curry Powder
1 cup Brown Sauce
1/2 cup Chicken Stock
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
Salt and Pepper

  1. Melt the butter in a pan large enough to hold the ingredients; Add the onions and sauté until they are soft. Add the chicken, garlic and apple, and sauté a few minutes more.

  1. Add curry powder and cook until fragrant, mixing well. Add in the brown sauce and stock, mix, and simmer for 20 minutes.

  1. Add the lemon juice, mix well, and serve with boiled rice.

Boiled Rice — For Curry
Long-Grain Rice, (White Basmati for example)
Pinch Salt

  1. Rinse rice well in several changes of water. Place in a container with at least double the volume of water as rice. Soak for at least 45 minutes.

  1. Strain and put the rice in a saucepan. Cover the rice with 2 inches of water, and add the salt. Bring to a boil, and hold at a boil for 4-5 minutes. Test at the end of this time to see if the rice is cooked. If necessary, continue cooking for another minute, and test again. If the rice is cooked through, strain and return to the pan. Set off the heat and allow to sit for a minute or two to dry out.

1 comment:

  1. Nice historical cooking tale and recipes. Tomorrow I'm cookin' a chook to leave and make that curry the next day.

    I love a good curry!


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