Thursday, July 5, 2012

Savory Saffron Chicken...

Before I moved to Brazil, the only experiences I ever had with saffron were in a few Indian dishes I've tried here and there. I never knew just how easy I could prepare a delicious dish with saffron as the main ingredient until I tried my mother in law's Saffron Chicken. Wow.
         In Brazil, saffron is cheap and the most commonly used type is the kind that is a dark yellow-orange color. It has a very strong aroma, so it's not something you can just throw into any ol dish. In Portuguese, saffron is called "açafrão (ah-sah-frown)" and the dish I am about to show you is actually called "Frango ao molho de açafrão," or "Chicken in Saffron Sauce." I just call it Saffron Chicken.
        The ingredients are very simple, and there are only a few important steps that must be followed to ensure it turns out right. There are 3 key ingredients that you cannot skimp out on: Saffron, Garlic, and Green Onion (chive). You can make this as more of a soup by cooking it with more water, or you can start with a little less water and let it cook down into it's own sauce. Up to you, but I highly recommend making this along with Brazilian style rice and beans. If nothing else, just the rice. Slice up some tomatoes to serve with it, and you are SET!
          Your house will smell awesome. The food will taste like something you can buy in a restaurant, and you will make many bellies very happy. If you would like to give this one a go, here's how ya do it:

What you will need:

  • Whole bone in  chicken breast or entire chicken cut into chunks - unseasoned at this point.
  • large frying pan
  • medium to large pressure cooker or soup pot (if you are not using a pressure cooker, fine, but this will take much longer.
  • Large cooking spoon
  • fork, spoon, knife
  • enough oil to submerge chicken 75%
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • salt to taste about 1 tsp if you are not good at gauging how much salt to use... you can always add more at the end of it lacks saltiness
  • pepper to taste - or 1 tsp - just like the salt situation
  • 1 cup of chopped green onion (chives)
  • 1 1/2 TBSP saffron PLUS 1 tsp saffron
  • water

How it's done"

1. Put about 1 to 1 1/2 inches of oil into the frying pan and place over high heat. Allow it about 5-8 minutes to get hot.
2. Put chicken bits into hot oil and make sure it is submerged at least 75%. Too little oil and the chicken will fry too much too fast and will probably stick to the pan. Messy.

3. Leave the chicken to fry, occasionally turning the pieces and making sure they fry evenly on all sides. 
4. Once they have been frying for about 10 minutes, sprinkle your 1 tsp. of saffron over the top of the chicken and allow it to cook into the chicken as the chicken fries. 
5. Take your pressure cooker, leaving the top off for now (or your soup pot) and fill it about 1/4 of the way at first. Place it over medium to high heat to get it heating up for your fried chicken pieces. 
6. Go ahead and add the rest of you saffron, salt, pepper, garlic, and half of the chopped chives to the water and stir it until it looks to be mixed in. Leave it to start a boil.
7. Keep checking on your frying chicken. It needs to get to a dark golden brown color on the outside. It needs to look as if it is starting to get crispy, but isn't quite there yet. When it reaches that point (of not totally crunchy), they're ready to be removed.  Our goal is not to let them get too crunchy, but a nice dark golden color on the outside to seal in all those yummy juices on the inside.

8. Remove the fried chicken from the oil and transfer into pot of water which should be starting to boil by now. If it's not yet, that's fine. Not a big deal really. Take an additional 3 or 4 TBSP of oil from the fried chicken oil and add it to the water.

9. If you are using a pressure cooker, now you may give everything one last stir and lock the top on. If you are not using a pressure cooker, just give it one last stir and place the top on. Make sure heat is set to high.
10. Pressure cooker cooking time is about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes you can carefully remove the top (if someone hasn't shown you how to remove the top, you need to know how to do that first without ending up in the ER) and if the chicken has taken on a yellow color and looks tender, it's good to go. If you are looking to allow it to sit in a soup, you're done. If you are wanting it to be more of a thickened sauce, you need to return it to the stovetop on high flame WITHOUT the lid. Let it cook until it looks saucy enough for you. 

Then it's ready.
Normal pot cooking time is different. You will most likely need to leave it cooking with the top on for an hour. Occasionally you may need to throw more water in it when the water level starts to get too low. Once the chicken has taken on that golden color and looks tender, you're done. As said before, if you want more of a sauce consistency than soupy one, put it back on the fire with the lid off and let it cook down until it looks like what you want it to.
I prefer the soupier texture because I can pour that over rice or I can actually eat it like a soup. It's delicious!
11. Transfer your finished chicken with juices into a serving dish and sprinkle the remaining chopped green onion (chives) over the top of it.

12. Serve in a bowl or deep plate as a soup, add rice and pour soup over both for a chicken rice soup, or eat the chicken alone as is. 

Anyway you eat it, it will be delicious. The first time I made this for my husband, he told me I had completely outdone myself and if he hadn't seen me making it he wouldn't have believed I didn't buy that from a restaurant. It is super savory!
13. Prepare for "happy belly" faces!

Boa sorte! Good Luck!

1 comment:

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