A crock pot dish for a crowd

December 31, 2008|By LYNNE ROSSETTO KASPER / Scripps Howard News Service

Dear Lynne,

I am a police chief in a small Midwestern town. My staff and I have an agreement that every time my picture gets in the paper I keep peace in the office by bringing in food for the whole crew. So far, I've done chili, pizza, lasagne and my specialty - saffron chicken with noodles. I want to keep them happy but am running out of ideas. Do you have another dish I could do that works in a Crock Pot or in the oven and reheats well?

- Cooking Policeman.

Dear Cooking Policeman,

I like this approach - every time you get the glory the crew gets good eating - a very smart concept.

What comes to mind is chicken thighs for their price, and how much more forgiving they are of possible overcooking than the far more expensive breasts. A chicken thigh rarely dries out.


But in truth, this recipe is all about the marinade. Lushly sour and tart with lots of fruit and a hearty snap of chilies, marinades like this go with so many foods - from vegetables to tempeh and tofu, to poultry, pork, beef and especially lamb. You could cook pot roast in this marinade, stew a combination of cabbage, carrots and onions in it, or brush it over roasting potatoes.


Serve 4 to 5 and multiplies easily

Chicken can be reheated in a 350-degree oven, spread on a baking pan. Give it about 15 to 20 minutes to heat through.

Serve the chicken with rice or noodles.

3 tablespoons tamarind concentrate (or more to taste)
2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons Tabasco Sauce (or to taste)
1 to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 to 2 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A small handful of parsley or fresh coriander leaves for garnish

If possible, start marinating a day ahead. In deep bowl large enough to hold all the chicken, blend together the tamarind, Tabasco, vinegar, oil and garlic until smooth. Add the thighs and turn them to coat evenly with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To cook, preheat the oven to 325 degrees, spread foil over a big shallow pan, spread out the chicken and its marinade, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and roast about 1 hour, occasionally turning and basting with pan juices. Chicken is cooked when an instant reading thermometer inserted in a thick piece reads 165 degrees.

If skin hasn't crisped, turn on broiler and cook, turning to brown evenly. Take care not to burn the meat. Just a few minutes per side will do the trick.

To serve, place the chicken on a platter, skim some of the fat from the pan juices and scrape them over the pieces. Garnish with the parsley or coriander.

Cook's note: If tamarind concentrate isn't to be had, substitute 1 teaspoon grated lime rind, 2 tablespoons lime juice and 2 to 3 pitted prunes. Puree together in a food processor.

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