Confession: I do not like the dark meat of chicken. I have tried every which way to cook it: roasted, braised, crock-potted, deep-fried, in soups, in tacos, in stir fries, in pasta dishes. And no matter what I did I just could not find a way to enjoy the taste and texture of dark chicken meat. Until now.
Chicken legs, meet curry.
As I have shared here before, I prefer to buy whole chickens instead of boneless, skinless chicken breast because if you look closely you are usually paying the same price for two breasts as you could for an entire chicken. Why waste that money and the rest of that bird for a little more convenience? I was just about to give up on the leg portions of the bird and start freezing them and giving them away to a friend who likes them, when I decided to try one last flavour set: curry. And I finally have a winner.
Curry is most often served with Basmati rice, and for good reason as it is delicious that way. But… Basmati rice, for all its delicious flavour, is about as nutritious as eating a bowl of sugar… no fiber and lots of refined carbs that are going nowhere but to my hips. But- hulled barley (also called “pot barley”), which is the least refined version of the grain you can purchase, is very high in fibre and has a wonderfully nutty flavour and chewy texture that stands up wonderfully to a slow-cooked curry dish like this.
Curried Chicken and Barley
- 2 chicken legs, whole or in thigh/drumstick pieces
- 1/2 cup of “hulled” or “pot” barley, rinsed
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper (I used red), chopped
- 1/3 cup cashews (optional)
- 1/4 cup diced dried mangoes or other dried fruit (optional)
- 1/4 cup butter or ghee
- 1 T curry powder
- 1/2 T garam masala (or just more curry powder if you don’t have this)
- 1 t cumin
- 1 t ground ginger
- 1 t sugar (optional)
- 1/4 t cinnamon
- 1/4 t cayenne (optional IF you like it spicy)
- 750 ml can of diced tomatoes
- 400 ml can of coconut milk
- salt and pepper
1. Rinse and pat dry your chicken legs, add salt and pepper. If you want a lower-fat curry, you can take the skins off, but in my opinion the skins add so much flavour to the dish. I meet in the middle on fat-intake and I cook the chicken with the skin on but remove it before eating it.
2. Prepare the spice mixture by mixing all of the above spices (except salt and pepper) in a little dish.
3. In a large, deep saute pan or a dutch oven (you’ll need a lid for the pan), heat the butter on medium heat. Once the butter is foamy, add the onions an red peppers. Cook for about three minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are glassy.
4. Add the spice mixture (all of it together at once), sprinkling it evenly over the onion mixture in the pan. Allow the heat to warm the spices through (get ready to salivate!) , stirring occasionally for about 3 minutes.
5. Add the barley to the pan, stirring, allowing the grains to be covered by the seasoning.
6. Add your chicken legs and allow them to simmer a few minutes on each side in the seasoning/onions, so they are good and coated with that yummy stuff.
7. Add your canned tomatoes, with their liquid. I have listed a 750 ml can of tomatoes here, but I only add them until the chicken is not quite covered (see photo above), and thus there was a little tomato left in the can. You can eyeball it to what looks right for your dish, but that is about where you want the liquid level to be.
8. Using a spatula, scrap up all that oniony, spicey goodness that is probably sticking to the bottom of the pan at this point. Bring the tomatoes just to a boil and then turn the whole thing down to quite low, about a 2-3 on the burner dial. Cover almost completely with a lid, leaving just about an inch for steam to escape, and cook, turning the chicken legs only occasionally, for 45 minutes.
9. Add your cashews and dried fruit if you’re using, as well as the coconut milk. Note- once again I did not use the entire can of coconut milk. If you notice, when coconut milk sits the thick coconut cream comes to the top of the can. I usually scoop all of that into the pan, then add a little of the coconut water left behind, until the chick is just barely covered again.
10. Bring just to boil and back down to simmer on 2-3, for 20 minutes.
11. Now you have a choice… you can serve as is and serve a piece of chicken on the plate or bowl surrounded by the curry, or you can do as I did and take the legs out, take the meat off with forks, and put the meat back into the pan and discard the bones.
It turned out delish, if I do say so myself, and we ate it with some warmed up naan bread and a dollop of plain yogurt as a garnish. Chopped fresh cilantro would take the dish right over the top into culinary delight but alas… I didn’t have any on me. Im so glad finally to have found a recipe for chicken dark meat that I actually enjoy.
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Blessings, hope to see you soon!
Proud to be linking up today with Just Another Meatless Monday at Hey Mom Whats for Dinner, Meatless Mondays at Veggie Mamma, Makin’ You Crave Monday at Mrs. Happy Homemaker, The Gathering Spot at Mamal Diane, Melt in Your Mouth Mondays at Make Ahead Meals, Show Me What Ya Got at Not Just a Housewife, and Traditional Tuesdays at Delicious Obsessions, Healthy 2day Wednesdays at Authentic Simplicity, Whole Food Wednesdays at This Chick Cooks, Works For Me Wednesdays at We Are That Family,Full Plate Thursdays at Miz Helen’s, Share Your Cup Thursdays at Jann Olson’s, Think Tank Thursdays at Joyful Homemaking.