Chipotle Chili & Garam Masala Chicken

I talk themes a lot whenever I discuss throwing any kind of gathering. And while I take what I produce in the kitchen seriously every time, I always feel a little more pressure to make the best of the best when the gathering I’m having is a dinner party. My mind races to find something that I have yet to make for my family and friends whenever I begin planning for the next time I entertain guests, and it surprises me where I pull ideas from.

In my earlier years, whenever I heard of Indian food, the first and only flavor that came to mind was curry. Though it is a very popular seasoning in Indian cuisine, the flavors that make that country’s food so unique and delicious go way beyond the use of any one single spice.

During a recent trip to London, an amazing city whose largest non-white population is Indian, I put the culinary claims of those friends whom have had the honor of also visiting London to the test. I went to an Indian restaurant with my husband one of the nights we were there and ate until I was ready to pop.

Curry ran throughout the menu, but all of it was not the curry I was used to as a kid. The variations of this spice, made by the blend of herbs used in it, gave every dish a new, different and vibrant life. Whether it was the cornish hen that kicked things off, the braised lamb, the chicken breast served in a spicy red sauce or the chicken swimming in a sweet coconut blend that tempered the heat of the other dishes, this Indian restaurant took me on a flavor journey I had almost forgotten was possible.

Thanks to that restaurant, I became inspired. I found myself roaming the amazing Borough Market for the very first time later that week. And through what I consider to be divine intervention, I stumbled upon a quaint spice shop called Spice Mountain.

Embedded in a strip of other small shops selling fresh produce, wine, cheeses, meats and prepared foods, this establishment, despite its small footprint, introduced me to the most vast selection of spices I had ever encountered. From your traditional seasonings to rare items like ground red bell pepper and Mediterranean bruschetta herb blends (just to name a very few), Spice Mountain quickly came my favorite stop in all of London and further inspiration for my future plans in the kitchen (if you find yourself in London, do yourself a favor and visit this place!).

One of the many spices I purchased at Spice Mountain was garam masala — a type of spice blend very different from the only bright-colored curry I grew up knowing as a kid. From its darker color to the heavier clove flavor it carries, using garam masala allowed me to bring India into my kitchen in a way I had never done before. The result is this recipe I share with you today.

This Chipotle Chili and Garam Masala Roast Chicken introduces flavor staples of India to those of Mexico. Allowing the chicken to marinate gives the savory and vibrant herb blend time to penetrate every ounce of meat, producing an even more flavorful outcome. Paired with the sauce that is made from the drippings of the chicken and a good amount of white wine, this entrée is the perfect centerpiece to any dinner party.

Chipotle Chili & Garam Masala Chicken

(recipe serving size – 6 people)

For the chicken:

5 lb whole chicken, halved

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup fresh oregano, loosely packed

2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp chipotle chili powder

1 tsp kosher salt

6 cloves garlic

Juice of 2 lemons

Combine in a processor and blend until smooth. Spread all over chicken, including under the skin. Marinate in refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.

For the braise:

1 large sweet onion, sliced

2 cups white wine

1 cup chicken stock

2 tb olive oil

2 tb butter

1 tsp za’tar

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp cracked black pepper

1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large oven-safe pan, sauté the onion in the butter, olive oil and spices over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add the wine. Simmer for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and chicken, flesh side facing up. Bring to a boil. Cover with foil and place in oven to roast for 60 minutes. Remove foil and continue to roast for another 30 minutes or until internal temperature of the chicken is at least 175 degrees and the juices run clear.

Baste and broil the chicken for 5 minutes or until skin has browned.

Bringing it all together:

2 tb water

1 tb all purpose flour

1/2 tsp kosher salt

2 sprigs fresh oregano

Remove the chicken from the pan and cover with foil to keep warm. Place the pan with all of the drippings on the stove over medium-high heat. Bring to a vibrant simmer. Mix the flour and water together in a separate bowl until smooth and whisk the mixture into the pan drippings. Add the salt. Cook for 10 minutes until the flavors have fortified and the sauce has thickened.

Serve chicken family style on a large plate in two whole pieces or cut up alongside the sauce. Garnish with the fresh oregano.

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