Martha Stewart Living (January 2011)
As you guys know, we're always up for a new roast chicken recipe. And the thought of some soul-warming Indian spices on a cold January night had us excited for this Tandoori-Marinated Chicken with Cucumber, Lime and Chiles.
Did this Indian-kissed chicken live up to our expectations?
Well, yes. And also no.
This chicken was fine. And by fine, we mean that it's a highs-and-lows recipe. Parts of it we loved. Other parts left us less than thrilled.
First, the highs: We really love the flavors at play here -- cumin, coriander, ginger, fennel, turmeric, garlic. It's a heady swirl of delicious Indian spices, and it's very, very tasty. We also love the technique, in which you puree a mixture of onions, garlic and ginger, and then briefly fry the mix with toasted spices, let it cool, and then apply it to the bird for flavoring.
But even with these concentrated flavors, this chicken suffers a fate that's all too common with roasted birds: big taste on the outside, not much taste on the inside. Despite marinating the chicken in the spices overnight, we found that the flavor was only skin-deep. The meat inside, while tender and juicy, just didn't have much flavor at all.
This blandness in roasted chicken is by no means unique here. Even our absolute favorite roast chicken recipe, from Barefoot Contessa, can suffer from this problem. In fact, the reason that's our fave recipe may be because it's served with a delicious pan gravy that more than makes up for any blandness on the inside of the bird. But do you have to have a gravy in order to get super flavorful roast chicken?
We're not convinced there's a sure-fire solution for this problem. Cook's Illustrated addressed this issue back in 2008, when we wrote about Herbed Roast Chicken. Their solution? Butterfly the chicken, nick it all over, brine it and then apply a very concentrated paste before the bird is roasted. The results were hard to argue with: a flavorful "herbstravaganza."
So the flavor was great on the outside, but bland on the inside. What about the rest?
We suspect that this recipe, as written, may leave out a step. The recipe doesn't call for anything to be rubbed on the chicken skin. It does instruct you to apply the onion, garlic, and ginger concoction "under the skin on each side." But there's no butter, yogurt, or oil applied to the skin itself, though there was lots of spice mixture left over after we had placed all we could beneath the skin.
Looking at the magazine photo, we were certain that something had been applied to the skin itself. We're guessing that the author meant for the remainder of the spice mix to be rubbed on the skin, so that's what we did. Prior to wrapping it up in plastic wrap to marinate, we covered the outside of the bird with the remainder of the onion, garlic and ginger mix. The resulting surface of the bird was delicious, so we think we made the right call.
Lastly, and we are aware that this point might sound nit-picky, but the title of the recipe is "Tandoori-Marinated Chicken with Cucumber, Lime and Chiles." The last line of the recipe reads, "Let rest for 10 minutes before serving with cucumbers, lime wedges, and chiles." Granted, these three ingredients make for a lovely photo. But for the life of us, we couldn't figure out how to eat the cucumbers and serrano chiles with this chicken. We spritzed the dish with lime juice, but the chiles and cucumber sat sadly on the plate, like a woefully incomplete side salad.
It just strikes us as a little odd to include in the name of a dish a few things that really don't have much to do with it at all. You could just as easily call this recipe "Tandoori-Marinated Chicken with Apples, Doritos and a Television," and just change the last line of the recipe to, "Let rest for 10 minutes before serving with apples and Doritos in a room with a television."
Anyway, let's bottom-line this thing.
Glad we made it? Yes.
Make it again? No.
- Indian-Spiced Turkey Meatloaf with Spicy Indian Ketchup
- Lemon and Rosemary Chicken (Pollo Arrosto)
- Herbed Roast Chicken
(This photo: Martha Stewart Living)
Active Time: 20 minutes
Total time: Up to overnight
Serves 4 to 6
1½ teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
½ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
½ cup Greek yogurt
1 whole chicken (about 4½ pounds)
Cucumbers, lime wedges, and chiles (such as Serrano)
1. Toast cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Grind into a fine powder.
2. Purée onion, garlic, and ginger. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion mixture. Fry until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in spice mixture and turmeric. Let cool.
3. Stir yogurt into onion mixture. Season with salt.
4. Place chicken, breast side up, on a rimmed baking sheet, and tuck wings under. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Gently separate skin from breast of chicken, and rub some of the yogurt mixture under the skin on each side. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
5. Preheat oven to 450°. Uncover chicken, and season with salt. Reduce oven temperature to 400°. Roast chicken for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven, and tent loosely with foil. Return to oven, rotating sheet. Roast until juices run clear and an instantread thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh reaches 165°, about 30 minutes more. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving with cucumbers, lime wedges, and chiles.