TURMERIC BUTTER CHICKEN RICE

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WHEN YOU RELEASE THE CHICKEN-BAG WITH A SCISSOR OVER THE BED OF COCONUT RICE, ALMOST LIKE GOD-SENT, A STREAM OF PROMISED GOLDEN LIQUID WILL PERCOLATE FREELY INTO EVERY THIRSTY GRAIN OF HAPPINESS THAT YOU’LL ALMOST HEAR THEM PURR.

Hey, I own a shit load of cookbooks, I do.  And I’m not saying it isn’t a problem.  Especially when it’s become a very common first remark that people make when they visit our apartment, noticing from the ungoverned stacks that seem to occupy every flat surfaces of every able furnitures, evidently overrunning our shelving-space that is already working its double-layer capacity.  And my worst fear is that before long, Jason has to kindly ask Thomas Keller to scooch over before he can “relieve” himself, if you see what I mean.  So yeah, there is an issue there.  But you know, I guess it could be reasonably understood.  I mean, for someone like me and for what I sort of do, I guess, it makes sense.  What doesn’t make sense, at all, is that for someone who owns this many cookbooks, I have almost never cooked a recipe from any one of them.  And I mean never, except maybe once but not really, ok?  Because I can’t follow instructions.  Period.  Now this is really bizarre.  For one, I create recipes and expect people to follow them explicitly all the time.  But if you didn’t, don’t fret it, because guess what?  Ha!  I can’t follow a recipe for a damn either!  It’s really more of a severe birth-defect than anything else, like the other day when I absolutely made up my mind that for the first time ever in my cooking life, even if it kills me, I was going to execute a recipe like how the creator had intended, and yet, I still derailed.

The particular recipe that I owe my grave apology to, is the turmeric-rubbed chicken from Eat With Your Hands Cookbook.  Now I have to give myself some credit here.  At first try, I really did manage to change ONLY HALF of the recipe!  Instead of roasting the turmeric-rubbed chicken over lemongrass and coconut milk, I decided it was in both of our best interest to do it over a bed of lemongrass and coconut rice.  The urge of putting a “sponge” underneath a grease-dripping hot body overruled my determination to obey, so I’m sorry for that.  But for the other half of the recipe, including rubbing the chicken with turmeric butter and letting it sit for 24hours, I followed painstakingly.  But the thing is, have you ever tried rubbing butter over the skin of a chicken?  Try sticking a piece of lard on a teflon surface to get a feel of it.  It’s practically impossible!  They just don’t bond!  And even though the butter is sufficiently seasoned, the “emulsion” prevents the seasoning from seeping into the chicken, even after the whole 24 hours of it.  So at the second try, it became inevitable, that in spite of my best effort, I had to sabotage the recipe completely.

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Here was my train of thoughts.  That instead of rubbing the turmeric butter over the chicken, it should go underneath the skin.  Then the skin around the opening of the cavity, and around the neck at the top of the breasts, should be tightly sewed together with toothpicks in order to create a sealed environment, turning the skin of the chicken into an all-around skin-suit that bags all the butter and juices inside during cooking.  Some of the turmeric-mixture without butter would be reserved, and get rubbed all over the skin to create a savoury marinate.  Then, the whole chicken would be roasted over and basting a cradle of jasmine rice cooking at the same time inside lemongrass and coconut milk.  You know those French rotisserie chickens roasting and turning just above a valley of baby potatoes?  Well, think about this as a Southeast Asian version of.  But instead of just chicken fat, it drips golden turmeric butter-grease infused with garlic and red chilis, and instead of potatoes, over a bed of perfume-y and eagerly absorbent coconut rice.

When the cooking is over and the dusts settle, what you’ll have is a piping hot sauce-bag made of savoury chicken skins and flesh, filled with rampant chicken juice welded with turmeric butter and scented with lemongrass.  And when you release this chicken-bag with a kitchen scissor right over the bed of coconut rice, like God-sent, a stream of promised golden liquid will percolate freely into every thirsty grain of happiness that you’ll almost hear them purr.  Then, and only then, you give it a well-deserved toss, and serve everything with a spicy and herby sauce made with coconut milk, lemongrass and yellow mustard.

What did I say.  Sabotage.  Complete sabotage.  I promise I’ll follow better next time.

  

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TURMERIC BUTTER CHICKEN RICE

Ingredients

    SPICY COCONUT SAUCE:
  • 1 1/2 cup (330 grams) coconut milk
  • 1/2 lemongrass stalk (25 grams), white part only
  • 2~3 small red chilis
  • 1 small Asian shallot, peeled
  • 2 tsp yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/8 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp (14 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • TURMERIC BUTTER CHICKEN RICE:
  • 1 whole chicken about 3 lbs (1500 grams)
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 1/2" (30 grams) ginger, cut into chunks
  • 3 small red chilis
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tbsp (57 grams) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups (378 grams) jasmine rice
  • 1 1/2 cup (330 grams) coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cup (300 grams) chicken stock
  • 2 plus 1/2 stalks (100 grams + 25 grams) lemongrass, white part only, smashed and cut into segments
  • A pinch of salt and black pepper to season

Instructions

  1. MAKE THE SPICY COCONUT SAUCE: In a blender or food-processor, blend everything under "SPICY COCONUT SAUCE", except for the butter and fresh cilantro, until pureed. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a small pot, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as you can, then discard the solids. Add the unsalted butter, then bring the mixture to a gentle boil, and cook for 20~25 min until reduced by 1/3. The sauce be a bit thick in consistency. Stir in the fresh chopped cilantro and re-season with fish sauce if needed. Set aside until needed.
  2. MAKE THE TURMERIC BUTTER CHICKEN RICE: Rinse and clean out the cavity of the chicken, then pat dry and set aside. In a food-processor, puree garlic, ginger, red chilis, fish sauce, ground turmeric, ground coriander and ground black pepper until smooth. Take out about 1 1/2 tbsp of this turmeric-mixture and set aside, then add the unsalted butter to the rest of the mixture and run the processor again until evenly incorporated.
  3. Gently insert your hands in-between the flesh and skin of the chicken from the neck-opening at the top of the breasts, separating the two layers to make space for stuffing the turmeric butter. Work slowly and gently so you do not puncture the skin, and make sure you do it all the way to the back-thighs that's attached to the back-bone. Now reserve 1 tbsp of the turmeric butter for cooking the rice, then rub the rest thoroughly underneath the chicken skin, evenly distributing it through the whole chicken. Place 1/2 of the smashed lemongrass stalk inside the cavity, then with toothpicks, sew/seal the skins around BOTH the opening of the cavity and the neck. This is important because it keeps the turmeric butter sealed inside the chicken during roasting. Now, rub the reserved turmeric-mixture WITHOUT BUTTER, evenly over the whole chicken. Let marinate for anywhere from 2~6 hours depending on your schedule.
  4. Preheat the oven on 420F/210C. Put the jasmine rice in a sieve, then rinse and gently rub under running water to rid of excess starch. Drain well and set aside. In a large, shallow baking-dish (has to be shallow so the rice will cook evenly), melt the reserved 1 tbsp of turmeric butter over medium-high heat, then cook the rice in it for about 3 min. Add the coconut milk and chicken stock, then scatter the lemongrass on the top. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook for 3 min without stirring (there should still be a thin layer of liquid above the rice).
  5. Now, place a baking-rack over the baking-dish, and set the chicken on top, breast-side down first (this gives the thighs a head start and prevents the breasts from overcooking). Place the whole thing in the middle-rack of the oven and roast for 15 min, then gently turn the chicken over so the breast-side now faces up, and roast for another 30~35 min until the chicken is browned. Remove the baking-rack with the chicken on top, and let rest for 10 min. Leave the rice in the oven during this time so it can finish cooking.
  6. Remove all the lemongrass from the rice. The best way to cut the chicken is with a scissors, and make sure that you do it right over the rice so it can catch all the precious juice/butter that comes out of the chicken. Remove the lemongrass from inside the cavity, then serve immediately with the spicy coconut sauce (reheated gently over low heat).

Notes

I didn't have fresh turmeric so I used a combination of ginger and ground turmeric. If you have fresh turmeric, you can use 1" of turmeric to replace both.

You can also just pour coconut milk in the baking-dish, with the smashed lemon grass on top, then roast the chicken sitting over the lemongrass as the original recipe instructed.

A note on flipping the bird. I recommend taking the tray out of the oven, then use a tongs with silicone-tips (so it doesn't puncture the bird) on one hand, and a mitten or towel on the other (or TWO silicone tongs if you have), then flip the bird in a single motion.

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53 Comments

  • i still haven’t roasted a whole chicken (ever). i haven’t found anything that sounds good enough to make me want to go through touching all that raw chicken, but this is definitely a contender. or hah, maybe i’ll just chicken out and use tofu instead, even though i’m betting the chicken would be a lot better.

  • A) THIS RECIPE. I’m okay with you not following recipes because you have such a knack for combining the assertiveness of Asian flavors (vinegar, spiciness, fermented umami-esque things) with American excess (mostly butter). It’s awesome.

    B) Um the description of the chicken releasing golden liquid on the rice made me think of the newest word I learned: uvinist. Also R. Kelly and that 14 year old girl. But don’t mind me, my mind is probably languishing in the gutter because I just finished reading Nabokov.

    • JS, bwahahahahaaa!! I can’t find the definition of that word! Does that have to do with “urine”? Since you know, “golden”.. And also, it’s quite a high regard that you hold R. Kelly’s whatever-he-released-onto-a-14-year-old-girl, be to associated with “golden liquid”. Too hilarious.

      • my bad it’s undinist! and yes that’s precisely what it means. a person who is v v veryyy fond of those activities.

        I bet no one reading the comments on a food blog was expecting to come across this little word of the day :) haha

  • Omgshhhhh Im pinning this and making it asap!!!! Life has been so crazy I barely just sat down to this….It looks soooooo sinful, and I like it. ;))) I used to own lots of cookbooks till they got lost in storage somewhere–a place I’ve been trying to avoid for a good while now,

  • I’m going to attempt to make this dish for my Father’s birthday tomorrow. Thanks for the share! Also – If I leave out the chilies, does it become sweet? I’d rather not have sweet chicken.

  • I know what you mean about cookbooks. I have hundreds. Right now, I am collecting Indian cookbooks. My thing is that I read them cover to cover. I do have standards. They have to be cool. They have to real. And now I am mad about all kinds of spices. Spice books by Jill Norman rock.

    This recipe is to die for. Lemongrass! Coconut milk! Chicken, B-U-T-T-E-R! Y—-E—-S—-!!!
    I can’t stand it!

  • SO, what’s your favorite way to flip the bird? I had a near disaster tonight, but it’s all good.

    I couldn’t help to add raisins (dried apricots next time!) to the cooking rice and then toss toasted almonds in when finished. I am sitting down to this succulent bird tonight- what a wonderful meal! thank you for the inspiration.

    • McAuliflower, oh no! I usually take the tray out of the oven, then use a tongs with silicone-tips (so they don’t puncture the skins) on one hand, and a mitten on the other. Perhaps I should put that in the recipe… but I hope you liked the rest of it!

      • Oh it was all good! That process just always feels so tenuous :)
        This made for an amazingly lovely dinner. Looking forward to the leftovers with grilled cherry tomatoes. Cheers!

  • The most brilliant sabotage I’ve ever witnessed.
    Oh, and my cookbook collection is in its infancy still, but it’s growing at an exponential rate and I’ve already begun to worry about how I’ll contain it…

  • I’ve been stalking this blog for a while now and I’ve pleased to say I’ve finally made one of your recipes! When I saw this post the other morning I knew I’d be making it for dinner. This was quite possibly the best rendition of chicken and rice I’ve ever had — especially the rice! I wanted to drop a few notes, if I may. First off, it pays to lightly — lightly! — season the chicken with salt after you put the paste on the outside. Don’t overdo it because a lot of the salt will run off into the rice, seasoning it. So don’t get cute and season the rice, you won’t need to. Also, the solids you press out of the coconut milk sauce make a fabulous topping, toasted in a nonstick pan until dark brown and crispy. As for sides to accompany this meal (I believe in always having something green), I highly highly recommend fava beans tossed with dill and almonds. I can tell I’ll be making this chicken+rice a few more times. Thanks so much for the recipe!

  • hey there! let’s me first start off by saying that the pictures look AWESOME! I’ve already started making this and have marinated the chicken already. I’m planning to cook this for lunch tomorrow so I’m leaving the chicken marinate overnight. I’m so excited!!

    I’ve read steps 4 and 5 umpteen times and I’m a little confused. In step 4, when I cook the raw rice in the turmeric butter over medium-high heat, add the coconut milk and the chicken stock and bring the liquid to the simmer, does this all happen over a fire or done in the oven?

    If it’s over the fire, I’m guessing that you use the same dish over the fire and in the oven. I’ll probably have to do it separately since I don’t have a baking dish that I can put over the fire so I’ll probably have to do it in a saucepan and transfer it to a baking dish.

    Also, after the simmering is done, I’m guessing that the rice and the chicken goes into the oven at the same time?

    I am going to have to cook this in about 10 hours time so I appreciate a quick reply!! :)

    • Joanne, yes, simmering the rice in coconut milk and stock is done on the stove, then it goes into the oven with the chicken at the same time (with the chicken above the rice on a rack, not touching). After the chickens is done and resting, the rice will need another 10 min in the oven.

  • I liked the recipe directly when I saw it (beautiful pictures like always). Tried it our yesterday night for dinner with my husband. It will be our favourite chicken recipe from now on. Absolutely delicious, tender chicken, crunchy rice and perfect flavours.

  • Do you think this could done in a vegetarian version, subbing veggie stock and maybe cauliflower for the chicken? It looks sooo yummy.

  • This looks amazing! Just got all the ingredients I need to make it for the first time!! However, I can’t seem to find a rack like the one you are using in this recipe…would you mind sharing where it’s from? Thanks so much!! So excited to also try the imploding honey custard cake…you are a genius!

  • I agree with the commenter above – I live in fear that you’ll stop blogging! I haven’t blogged for about two years because it’s bizarrely demanding so, if you feel like quitting, please think of my disappointment too!

    Your golf on gold rice was what brought me to your blog and made me fall in love. Just popped back to check the recipe, as cooking it for a third time tonight, and have now seen this beaut, which will definitely get cooked soon.

    When talking about spiced whole roast chickens, I always think about Madhur Jaffrey’s amazing skinless South African spices roast chicken, in her Curry Bible. Well worth a bastardisation, if you’re ever in the mood.

  • Hello. Thanks for this, looks delicious. What sort of shallow baking dish did you use? I can’t find something similar. Also did u feels the recipe needed something tangy or acidic to balance it out. It’s a lot of butter.

  • This looks incredible!! Not going to lie… I’m a little intimated haha but from the pictures it looks like it’s worth it! I’ll repost on my blog if it even turns out half as good as yours! You’re amazing! Keep at it

    Theleisureista.com

  • I tried this tonight and had to add a lot of extra liquid to the rice (like twice the suggested amount), and the chicken wasn’t fully cooked even after the second 35 minute cooking. Had to cook for another 20. Any advice on why this didn’t turn out?

    • Jennifer, was it possible that it was a different variety of rice? And the chicken perhaps was larger than the one I used? My chicken was quite small compared to regular chickens. Except for these factors, I can’t think of something else.

    • I had a similar situation, in that I needed to add more liquid, AND my rice (Mahatma brand Jasmine) was done after the first 15 minutes so I had to put it on the stovetop and then continue cooking the chicken, then rewarm the rice while the chicken rested. Not sure exactly why that happened, but it still turned out delicious!

      • Elizabeth, hmm I have no idea why! I cooked this twice and it required longer time for the rice in both times. The best guess I have is the difference in rice. But i’m glad you enjoyed the turnout :)

  • I just tried this recipe out tonight, and it was perfect! I was really wary of pouring chicken juices onto rice (I get uncomfortable when the juices seem to be too pink with blood, eek!), but I braved the process for this, and I’m so glad. I have nothing else to say other than THANK YOU for an incredible meal! This may just join our other favorite roasted chicken, and start in regular rotation. Thanks again!

  • Please sabotage more recipes. You are a genius and one of my new food heroes. I especially love how you take down the marinade time. But seriously, this is one sexy dish.

  • I made this last night for dinner. It is amazing. First time I’ve made anything like this. I had to improvise some as we live in central MN where some unusual ingredients are hard to come by. So good! I recommend serving it with a salad and fresh naan. Thank you for sharing.

  • Just found this recipe on Pinterest and I’m SO excited to make it! Do you see any reason why it wouldn’t work in a regular roasting pan? That’s wide enough to get the rice cooking evenly, right?

    Can’t wait to stalk the rest of your blog and find other fantastic dinner ideas…

  • Hiya, I made this last night & it was delicious. Can you tell me what the significance of the yellow mustard? It seems out of place with the rest of the spices.
    Thanks!

  • Could you tell me where you purchased that round baking rack? It is so lovely!

    Thanks in advance :)

  • Hello. Just wondering what yellow mustard did you use? Not mustard seeds, right? Can’t wait to try this!

  • I made this this evening after having it pinned on Pinterest for several months. This recipe will be a regular in my rotation. It was absolutely delicious and so flavorful. I didn’t read the recipe through well enough so missed the part about marinating the chicken. Even without marinating, it ended up delicious and full of flavor. Thank you so much for the beautiful and delicious recipe!

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