Chicken Rogan Josh

Okay, back to business. The business of food.

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I love my gigantic cutting board!

Last night, I made a slight variation on lamb rogan josh. As referenced in an earlier article, we keep our grocery budget pretty tight as a general rule — around $30 to $35 per week. And lamb doesn’t always fit into said tight budget. That doesn’t bother me too much, since I’m just as happy substituting and creating new dishes out of whatever looks good in the produce and meat sections during any given week.

This week, I was in the mood for some rogan josh, especially after discovering a jar of Patak’s rogan josh hidden towards the back of my pantry. It was set to expire in March 2008, so I figured there’s no time like the present. We always get chicken, potatoes, carrots and onions each week, so there were my rogan josh ingredients ready to go. Except for the lamb, that is… But rogan josh can be just as good with chicken, right?

As far as the hubby and I are concerned, the answer is yes. Maybe he wouldn’t make an ideal Iron Chef judge or anything, as he’s been known to eat Heinz baked beans on toast with mustard and barbecue sauce for lunch and dinner, multiple times in one week…but I’ll still take his hearty appetite for the meal and disappointment at my refusal to give him seconds (hey! we needed something to take for lunch the next day!) as approval for the chicken rogan josh.

Here’s the rough recipe (please note that I utterly ignored the instructions on the jar; you are more than welcome to follow those serving instructions if you wish):

Chicken Rogan Josh
Serves: 4


1 jar Patak’s rogan josh cooking sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup water
1/8 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
1 medium white onion, chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped
6 small Yukon Gold potatoes, chopped
4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

Combine the rogan josh sauce with the chicken stock, water, cream and butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan until well mixed. Add onion, potatoes and carrots. Season with a few pinches of koshering salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for twenty minutes, or until potatoes are softened.

Meanwhile, you might want to cook some rice. Your call. I just cooked some brown rice down in a mixture of half chicken stock and half water with a pinch of garlic.

When the potatoes are softened, add the chicken pieces and continue cooking over low heat until chicken is done and has absorbed some of the rogan josh, for about eight to ten minutes. Serve over rice. Garnish with cilantro (which I totally didn’t have last night but would have been fantastic, dammit).

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It may not be the healthiest recipe in the world — you can certainly cut out the butter and cream, and simply add more chicken stock and vegetables as you see fit — but it’s savory and warming and delicious and comforting, which makes it a winner in my book.

Happy eating!

The Work Triangle

Chief among the biblically-long list of things that I despise about newly-constructed homes in the Houston area (such as: STUCCO! STUCCO! SERIOUSLY! DEAR GOD, WHY ARE YOU BUILDING THINGS WITH STUCCO ON THEM? AND WHY ARE YOU RICH ASSHOLES BUYING THEM? THEY WILL BECOME MOLDY AND ROTTED WITHIN FIVE YEARS IN OUR CLIMATE DOWN HERE! THIS ISN’T CALIFORNIA! WHY ARE YOU SO EPICALLY STUPID???), is the fact that no one seems to know how to build a proper kitchen these days.

Generally, if I’m going to lay down $500,000 to $750,000 on a house here in Houston, I expect that the house will be well-planned and have good flow. More than that, I expect that the kitchens and baths will be close to top of the line. The kitchens, in particular, should be large and well-functioning.

I’m not talking about having fancy, shiny stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. I’m talking about having a good-sized pantry, plenty of counter space, an abundance of cabinet space and a pass-through to either the breakfast room, dining room or family room — preferably all three.

I’m talking about having the kitchen itself laid out in a proper work triangle, so that you don’t have to fill a pot with water and haul it eleven feet to your stove and then take a casserole dish out of your refrigerator and haul it another nine feet to your wall oven, while dodging an ill-placed island or having to walk around a bar area to get there.

So what is this fresh hell?

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Let’s count the things wrong with this picture:

  1. This is the kitchen of a house that’s being built just down the street from me in Memorial which is listed as being 4,095 square feet and which is selling for $749,000.
  2. For $749,000, you’re telling me that I’ll have exactly three regular-sized wall cabinets in my kitchen, one of which I won’t be able to reach without a stepladder?
  3. And two dinky, also-unreachable-by-normal-people wall cabinets over the wall ovens and fridge?
  4. Because I have more cabinets than that in my 1,500 square foot townhome that was built in 1968.
  5. I have more under-counter cabinets, too.
  6. And I have a full double sink.
  7. I also have significantly more counterspace.
  8. Seriously, what is that? Like, three useable feet of counter space not including the tiny sink and cooktop? There’s not even anywhere for someone to put a working island or anything else!
  9. And my townhome didn’t cost $749,000.
  10. And you’d better not expect me to furnish it with my own appliances after I just paid $749,000. Where is the refrigerator? The wall ovens?
  11. In case you can’t tell from this picture, the dining room is yards away from the actual kitchen; you have to traipse through the “family room” and entrance hall to get there, lugging your turkey and potatoes and whatever else you’re trying to serve all the way there.

For a house that someone will likely shell out three-quarters of a million dollars to buy — and which will probably house a family with kids and will host lots of parties — it contains the tiniest, paltriest, most unspectacular and most unfriendly kitchen I’ve ever seen.

Can you imagine trying to cook for a group of people in that kitchen? Or have more than one person in the cramped main workspace at a time? Did anyone even stop to contemplate the logistics of where this family will put all of their dishes and glasses and cookware and appliances? Because I’ll tell you that we’re pushing maximum cabinet capacity in my townhome, and there’s only two of us in there right now. I just hope their pantry is enormous.

I’m not trying to say that my townhome is all that and a bag of Kettle chips; that’s not the point here. The point is that while I don’t know who these companies are that are building all of these new houses, I know one thing: their kitchen-planning skills are crap.

And, seriously, ENOUGH WITH THE STUCCO.

Dog Burglars

Our dogs are becoming criminal masterminds when it comes to food.

Court Docket # 101D 

Defendant:  Daisy

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Crime:  Sneaking the poached eggs off of her male human’s plate when the humans weren’t looking, and then messily devouring them on the female human’s nice kitchen rug

Sentence:  Fifteen minutes in her room, loud voices yelling at her and no pig’s ear treat that morning before the humans left for the day

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Court Docket # 101S

Defendent:  Sammy

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Crime:  Eating an entire bowl of dark chocolate-covered cranberries that a female human unwittingly left out on the coffee table while the humans were away for the evening

Sentence:  A very bad stomach and three, elaborate wretching sessions which produced three, gigantic piles of sick

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And Mayor White says that our city’s crime rate is down…