Here’s an easier, scaled-down version of the “Beggar’s” roast chicken that’s been a family favorite for many years. The aromatic paste in this recipe can be used with slow cooked pork shoulder, or simmered on the stove and then used to cook fish. We like all of these options wrapped with freshly cooked roti, but wheat tortillas or any other flatbread can be used if you prefer. I hope you like this. ;o)
3 - 4
2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
1” cube tamarind pulp
1 small handful cilantro, leaves and stems separated
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 small onion (or an equivalent amount of shallots, sliced)
8 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce (or 1 ½ tablespoon regular), plus more, to taste
1 teaspoon anchovy paste, or 2 small anchovies, rinsed
A day, or the evening, before you plan to cook the chicken, remove the skin and any visible fat; sprinkle generously with kosher salt, rub it in and refrigerate, covered or tightly wrapped, until ready to cook.
When ready to cook, turn on the slow cooker to high. NB: You’ll be turning it down to low before leaving it to cook.
Put the tamarind pulp in a small bowl with about ¼ cup of very hot water.
Peel and quarter the onion; put it into a microwave safe bowl or Pyrex-type measure. I find the 2 cup works best because it’s a good vessel to use with an immersion blender.
Add the garlic, cover tightly, and microwave for 2 minutes. (This gives the aromatics a better flavor and texture when cooked in a slow cooker. I thank Cook’s Illustrated for this tip.)
Add the soy sauce, lime zest, anchovy paste and brown sugar. Use your fingers to squeeze the tamarind pulp, to check for seeds, and remove any that you find. Add the tamarind and soaking liquid and, using an immersion blender, blend to a coarse paste.
Put the chicken in the slow cooker. Cover each thigh with the aromatic paste.
Cover the slow cooker and turn it down to LOW. Cook for 3 ½ to 4 hours, until the meat is at an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Don’t worry if it goes a bit higher; thigh meat is quite forgiving in that regard.
Scrape off the tamarind paste into the cooking liquid; pour it off into a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook to reduce by 1/3, or more if desired. Chop the cilantro leaves and add them to the saucepan while the sauce is reducing, along with some freshly ground black pepper.
Remove the meat from the bones. When the sauce is reduced, taste and add a dash of soy sauce if it needs salt, and the juice of a lime to brighten it up. Gently stir the meat into the sauce. Serve wrapped in roti or other flatbread, or over rice. ;o)
When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in the San Francisco Bay Area, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)