Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Garam Masala Chicken Wings

     North India Style Wings!
     Garam Masala is a popular North Indian spice mixture.  Garam Masala is used like a curry spice mixture in many Indian recipes.
     The word "Garam" translates to "warm."  Garam Masala is not spicy hot, but it does create a comfortable warm feeling.
     Garam Masala is made with cumin, cinnamon, mace, ginger, coriander, black pepper, white pepper, cloves, green cardamom, black cardamom, nutmeg and bay leaves.  Some Garam Masala spice mixes may sometimes include small amounts of curry leaves, fenugreek or turmeric.  The ingredients can vary from one chef to the next, but the spice mix always has a gentle warm flavor.
     It takes experience to know how to properly blend a complex spice mix like Garam Masala.  Pre-mixed Garam Masala can be found at Indian food markets for a bargain price.

     Cilantro Chutney is a very nice condiment.  I featured a few recipes with Mint Chutney last year in this blog.  Cilantro Chutney is made with very finely minced cilantro leaves.  The leaves are minced with shallot and garlic, then sugar, spices and vinegar are added.
     It takes 3 to 4 large bunches of cilantro to make 1 cup of cilantro chutney.  Pre-made cilantro chutney is sold in jars at Indian markets and it is a nice convenience.  A jar of cilantro chutney is cost effective too.

     Ghee is used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking.  Ghee is clarified fresh butter.  Fresh butter has no water or salt added.  European plugra butter also has no water added.  Regular unsalted butter does contain a small percentage of water.  That small amount of water with the milk fats can scorch a butter at high temperatures.
     Clarified Butter (Ghee):
     Making ghee or clarified butter is easy.  When I am working in a busy sauté station at a restaurant, I usually clarify a large amount of butter, so that I do not have to worry about butter scorching.  For single portions entrees and most blog recipes, I usually do not clarify butter, because I have time to cook the moisture out of the butter to order, without scorching the milk fats.
     • To clarify butter, place about 1 pound of unsalted butter in a sauce pot over medium low/low heat.  When the butter comes to a gentle simmer, allow the moisture and milk fat liquids to evaporate.  The milk solids will stick to the bottom of the pan, after the liquid has evaporated.  By cooking till the liquids evaporate, the clarified butter will have much more flavor than drawn butter.
     • It is important not to overcook the butter.  Clarified butter should be a golden color and it should have a faint hazelnut aroma.
     • After the liquid has evaporated and the clarified butter is a golden color, remove the pot from the heat.  Skim any foam off of the top of the clarified butter.
     • Carefully pour the clarified butter into a container and leave the solid milk fats stuck to the bottom of the pot.
     • The clarified butter (ghee) can be refrigerated or frozen for later use.  Portions can be scooped when necessary.

     Drawn Butter:
     Many chefs make Clarified Butter the same way as making Drawn Butter, but there is a difference.  Drawn Butter has very little flavor.  Drawn butter is usually used for broiling seafood or as a condiment for steamed seafood.  Drawn butter is melted butter that is cooked at a very low temperature.  The milk fats and water are not caramelized or evaporated when making drawn butter.  The clear butter floats on top of the milk fat liquid.
     •  After slowly melting the butter, the foam is skimmed off the top of the butter and it is discarded.  
     •  The clear butter is then drawn off of the milk fat liquid.  This can be done by slowly pouring the butter off or by using a ladle to draw the butter off.  The liquid milk fats are discarded or used to flavor something like potatoes.
     • The finished drawn butter should be a yellow color with no hazelnut aroma.

     Overcooking clarified butter is no problem.  The result of over cooking clarified butter is beurre noisette (golden brown butter) or beurre meuniere (brown butter).  Beurre Noisette and Beurre Meuniere are required in many French recipes.
    If you accidentally overcook the clarified butter till it is dark brown or black in color, then you will have a beurre noir.  Beurre Noir can be used in a few French recipes and it is usually poured smoking hot over poached fish or poached skate.
     To avoid confusion, the order of prepared butters from lightest to darkest is melted butter (pale whitish yellow), drawn butter (pale yellow), clarified butter or ghee (golden yellow), beurre noisette (golden amber brown), beurre meuniere (brown butter) and beurre noir (black butter).

     Garam Masala Sauce for Chicken Wings: 
     This recipe yield enough sauce for 12 chicken wing pieces.
     Step 1:  Boil 2 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 2 tablespoon of minced garlic cloves.
     Add 1/3 cup of finely minced onion.
     Gently boil till the water is almost evaporated.
     Step 2:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 cup of water.
     Add 1/2 of a seeded minced green jalapeño pepper.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced ginger.
     Simmer till the water is nearly evaporated.  The onions and garlic should be soft and mushy.
     Step 3:  Add 3 ounces of ghee.  (clarified butter)
     Add 2 tablespoons of garam masala.
     Add 1 tablespoon of Korean style coarse ground red serrano chile pepper paste.  (sambal)
     Add sea salt to taste.
     Stir the ingredients together.
     Step 4:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.
     Add just enough water while stirring, to create medium thin sauce consistency.  (About 3 to 5 tablespoons)
     Simmer for 2 minutes over low heat.
     Step 5:  Place the garam masala chicken wing sauce in a mixing bowl and keep it warm on a stove top.

     Garam Masala Chicken Wings: 
     This recipe yields 12 wing pieces.
     Step 1:  Cut the wing tips off of 6 chicken wings.  (Discard the tips or save them for making chicken stock for another recipe.)
     Cut the wings apart at the wing and drumette joint.
     Step 2:  Heat 8" of vegetable frying oil in a high sided pot to 360ºF.
     Step 3:  Place the chicken wing pieces in the hot oil.  (Adding a few at a time reduces hot oil foaming.)
     Fry the wings till they are fully cooked and crispy golden brown.  (about 12 to 13 minutes)
     Step 4:  Use a fryer net to remove the wings from the hot oil.
     Place the fried wings in the mixing bowl with the warm garam masala sauce.
     Toss the wings and sauce together.
     Place a bed of Italian Parsley sprigs on a serving platter.
     Place a ramekin of cilantro chutney on the center of the platter.  (Cilantro Chutney can be purchased pre-made in jars at an Indian food market.)
     Place the garam masala sauced chicken wings around the ramekin on the platter.
     Spoon some of the remaining garam masala wing sauce over the chicken wings.

    The complex flavor of Garam Masala Chicken Wings is exceptionally good!

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