PORTLAND, Maine — Joe Ricchio is a familiar face in the 207 studio, often stopping by to discuss his latest food journey - whether it be the best barbeque in Maine, or the finest off-the-beaten-path diners across the state. Joe knows food, and writes and reviews food and restaurants for local publications as well as Bon Appetit and Boston Magazine. He is also the colorful host of The Food Coma podcast. His latest endeavor is a cookies series called "My Seventies Kitchen" (wait til you see those cabinets) where Food Coma fans can follow along as Joe creates some classic dishes - and support his cooking show by clicking here.
We got to have a front-row seat while he showed us how to make Butter Cashew Chicken. Joe says you can check most any Asian Market for the Shaoxing wine and the black vinegar. The grocery store will likely have ghee and Garam Masala, or these items could be purchased in an Indian Market. The dried fenugreek leaves and the Kashmiri chili powder could also be found in an Indian Market.
Butter Cashew Chicken
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 cups raw cashews
7 cups vegetable oil, for frying
2 tablespoons ghee
1 medium onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 handful cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
Marinade for Chicken:
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons ghee
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons ginger/garlic paste (puree of 4 cloves garlic and 1 inch piece ginger)
zest of 1 orange
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 tablespoon Kashmiri chili powder
1 cinnamon stick
14 oz. tomato puree
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves
1 can coconut milk
3 tablespoons butter
salt and white pepper, to taste
1. Start by marinating the chicken thighs overnight. (You can certainly substitute breasts if you’d like, the extended marinating time will keep them tender.)
2. The next day, drain the liquid from the chicken and let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
3. To make the sauce: Make a slurry by whisking together 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water. Now heat the ghee in a small-ish saucepan over medium heat before adding the chopped onions and stir-frying for three minutes. Toss in the garlic/ginger paste & orange zest. After 30 seconds add the chili powder, garam masala, and cinnamon. Cook for about a minute, stirring constantly. Fold in the tomatoes and dried fenugreek, continuing to stir. Next add the coconut milk, and once everything is incorporated add the slurry. Bring to a boil, stirring continually until the sauce begins to thicken. Drop the heat to low and season with salt and white pepper to taste, before adding the butter and simmering for 10 minutes. Set aside.
4. Heat the frying oil to 350° F. Add the cashews and cook for 2 minutes, removing to a paper-towel lined plate. Add the chicken and fry for 2 minutes, removing to a colander or draining rack.
Now it’s time to pull it all together, shall we? Heat the ghee in the wok over high heat, and add the peppers and sliced onions, stir-frying for 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken, continuing to cook for 2 minutes before adding the cashews. Keep cooking for another minute before adding the sauce and stirring to incorporate. Remove from the heat, add lime juice, scallions,and cilantro. Taste for seasoning, and it’s on…