Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cream Curry Chicken

Before I get to the recipe, I would like to draw your attention to a couple new links I have added. First is a new blog just started this month. Twinny’s Hideout offers a little bit of everything, some music, tech news, economics and probably more in the future. Everyone check it out. Second, the It Gets Better Project has grown substantially recently. In an effort to prevent gay teen suicides, there are youtube videos from all kinds of people, including President Obama, telling teens that “It Gets Better”. I’m very impressed at how many contributions they have received and hope it will do something.


This is one of my personal favourite recipes. It is another childhood memory and one of my favourite meals as a kid. It is so delicious and also quite easy to make. The techniques are not complicated and there are only six ingredients. That being said, this is in no way a healthy recipe. The dominant ingredients here are butter and cream, so don’t eat this too often. But with the weather getting colder, it is the perfect time for a rich, warming and comforting meal. As it will not take long to tell you how to make this, I will add a few lessons in ingredients and technique along the way.

Cream Curry Chicken

1.3 kg. Chicken breasts, bone in
2 lbs onions, sliced
large pinch salt
1 ½ sticks butter
2 cups cream
3 tblsp curry powder
1/3 cup brandy

Split chicken breasts in half. Melt butter in a large pot on medium-low heat. When melted, add curry powder and stir in. Add chicken and coat in curry butter, then add onions and salt. Stir carefully and cook covered for about 20 minutes. This is a French technique that is quite old, and not much used. It is called fondue, from the french for melted (not to be confused with cheese fondue), as the onions are sort of being “melted” into liquid. Another thing happening is that the chicken is slowly poaching in fat. By this point only the outside surface of the chicken should be starting to cook and the onions should be softening.

Add cream and brandy and increase heat to medium. Simmer until chicken is fully cooked, another 15-20 minutes. Then remove all chicken from the pot and set aside. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions from the pot, transfer to a food processor. Blend until pureed. Meanwhile, increase heat to high and reduce the liquid in the pot by at least half. When reduced, return pureed onions and chicken to pan, return to a boil. What is happening here is something of an imitation of Indian technique, having the cooked onions thicken the curry broth. Serve with saffron rice (see Guinea Style Chicken recipe, posted July 20)

Because there are so few ingredients, the quality of each ingredient is very important. I have already said plenty about chicken in other posts. The key for the onions is to make sure you use enough of them. Onions are mostly water and will cook down dramatically. The sharpness of the onion is all you have to cut the extreme richness of this recipe. Sweet onions are unnecessary - cooking onions are perfect for this. For cream and butter, I always try to buy organic, despite the expense and difficulty. I am concerned about hormones and other stuff that is fed to cattle. These things show up in the animals’ milk, and dissolve readily in fat. Also, I find the taste to be enormously better. Therefore, the higher the amount of milk fat present, the more important it is for that dairy to be organic. Unfortunately, items high in milk fat are very difficult to find as an organic option. Butter can often be found in health food stores, but organic heavy cream is very difficult to find. It seems organic food producers are under the impression that people who eat organic only want health food. Another reason I try to find organic cream is because conventionally produced cream has tons of preservatives, thickeners and additives in it, which I would rather not have.

I love Indian food and blend my own spices to produce curries. However for this recipe, I only use store-bought curry powder. This dish, while it has a curry taste to it, is in no way Indian. This dish actually uses French technique and is from a time when English curry powder was the only form of curry known to western cuisine. I use a British brand, Sharwoods hot.

For brandy, the key is to find a balance between good flavour and reasonable price. For this reason, it is often good to look for a non-French brandy as you will pay more for equivalent quality for a French brandy. I prefer Spanish Brandy from Jerez, the region that also produces Sherry. However, in Quebec it is almost impossible to find any brandy that is not from France, so I have found a V.S.O.P. Brandy that is not too expensive but has good flavour.


  1. This looks sooooo good! I am not a cook, but I cannot wait to try this recipe. Thanks for posting these recipes!!! Hugs, JR

  2. Sorry, but I have a question. Why does the chicken need to be bone in? Is is for flavor,or moisture? Thanks, JR

  3. In this recipe, the primary reason to leave the bone in is for flavour. There is more than enough moisture in the pot (including fat) to keep the chicken juicy. Since there is no chicken stock and the chicken is not browned, the bone will provide some chicken flavour to the broth. That being said, if one really preferred to use boneless, I think it would still work, just cook for less time after adding the cream.

    Hugs and Happy Cooking!

  4. Thanks for the info on bone in versus out. I plan to make the dish this week and will let you know how it turns out. Thanks again, JR

  5. I just finished making and eating the Cream Curry Chicken. OMG, it was so delicious!!!!!!!!! It smelled so good while it was cooking that I could hardly wait until it was ready. Thank you for the awesome recipes, please keep them coming! Hugs, JR