Another quick weeknight meal, Chicken Thighs in Tomato-Ginger Sauce brings a wonderful change of pace to the hum-drum monotony of getting something on the table quickly. Seasoned with warm spices, this Indian-inspired chicken dish is savory and comforting. The small amount of butter swirled into the sauce may seem like an unusual addition, but it adds richness and flavor, and softens the tomatoes’ acidity.
While it is traditionally served with basmati rice or naan, we took a shortcut and tried Alexia’s brand of frozen Butternut Squash Risotto. Not usually into processed side dishes, it’s not a bad idea to stock pile a few good ones because they certainly come in handy when you’re in a hurry or don’t have any fresh produce around. A few weeks ago we tried the same brand of Cauliflower Risotto and prefer that over the butternut mix—perhaps because it visually more resembles real risotto.
As far as the canned tomatoes, we had a 28-ounce crushed tomato in the pantry and figured that was a good enough substitute for a smaller quantity of thighs (we only cooked six) even though they weren’t “fire roasted.” Overall, we thought the flavors were very well-balanced and the garam masala and cayenne added just the right amount of heat.
Chicken Thighs in Tomato-Ginger Sauce
- 8 small, boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1-1/2 lb.)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1-1/2 Tbs. canola or vegetable oil; more as needed
- 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger (from a 1-inch piece)
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne
- 2 15-oz. cans fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- Pat the chicken thighs dry and season with 1-1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
- Heat the oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Brown half of the chicken, flipping once, 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a plate. If necessary, repeat with the remaining chicken, adding more oil if the pan looks dry.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until golden-brown on the edges, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, cinnamon, and cayenne and stir constantly for about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the tomatoes, increase the heat to medium high, and simmer vigorously until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.
- Add the chicken and any accumulated juice. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, reduce the heat, and simmer until just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to plates or a platter. Stir the butter into the sauce until incorporated and season to taste with salt.
- Spoon the sauce over the chicken, garnish with the cilantro, and serve.
By Dabney Gough from Fine Cooking