What's for Dinner: Sticky chicken with apricots, tamarind and chipotle

Sticky chicken with apricots, tamarind and chipotle

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We've been eating an awful lot of pasta in our house lately, so I decided to shake things up with an easy Mexican recipe. This homestyle dish combines the tang of tamarind, the fruit of an evergreen tree grown in tropical climates, with smoky chipotles in a spicy adobo sauce.

This dish is great for potlucks because it can be made ahead, travels well and reheats easily. You can find tamarind paste in the ethnic food section of the grocery.

  • 4 chicken thighs plus 4 chicken drumsticks, or one 3- to 4-pound chicken, cut into serving pieces
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil 4 cups water or chicken broth
  • 8 ounces (about 3/4 cup) dried apricots, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 3/4 cup latin-style tamarind concentrate or syrup (recipe follows)
  • 2 whole canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (optional), plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce

Pat chicken pieces dry with a paper towel then season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add chicken pieces skin side down in 1 layer, cooking them in batches if necessary, and brown for 4 to 5 minutes, or until the skin is crispy and browned. (Don't turn them too soon or they will stick.) With tongs, flip the chicken pieces to the other side and brown for another 4 to 5 minutes. Drain most of the oil out of the pan.

Pour water or broth over chicken and bring to a simmer. Add apricots, apricot preserves, tamarind concentrate, chipotle chile (if using), adobo sauce and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Taste for salt and adobo sauce and adjust to your liking. Serve hot over rice.

Serves 6.

-- "Pati's Mexican Table: The Secrets of Real Mexican Home Cooking" by Pati Jinich (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, March 2013, $30)

Latin-Style Tamarind Concentrate or Syrup

  • 3 tablespoons Indian or Middle Eastern tamarind concentrate or paste
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup boiling water

Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix until tamarind and sugar are dissolved. It will keep, refrigerated, for up to 6 months.

Makes 1 generous cup.

Gretchen McKay: gmckay@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1419 or on Twitter @gtmckay.


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