Baked Bree’s Butter Chicken

I like having options; this way or that way.  Even if I end up choosing one more often than the other, I like knowing there’s more than one way to get from Point A to Point B.  Think of your daily commute.  You use the same route day in and day out.  But when the traffic is just not moving, you need an alternate route.  For me, cooking is no different than driving.  Sometimes I want the scenery to be different or need to avoid a backup.  So I go a different way. I still get to my destination…whichever route I choose to use.

So it should be no surprise that my files contain different recipes for the same dishes.  These are usually baking recipes; chocolate cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, buttercream frosting.  There’s more than one way to make ’em.  But the savory dishes are there too.  Take Butter Chicken.

I’ve been using this recipe for Butter Chicken that I saw on Anna Johnston’s blog.  And as long as I remember to prep the chicken the night before, I get where I need to be.  But then I saw a post on Baked Bree for Butter Chicken that didn’t need to sit overnight.  And my forgetful self liked that idea.  A lot.

Now, I will say that Baked Bree’s method involves a little more work and just as many ingredients.  But when your destination is Butter Chicken goodness, this is an equally good route.  Try it yourself and see.

Butter Chicken

Adapted from Baked Bree

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 thai chili (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter

Heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat and cook the onion, ginger, garlic, and thai chili (if using) for 5 to 10 minutes or until softened.  Add the spices and cook 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.

Transfer the onion spice mixture to a food processor.  Add the tomato paste and one can of broth and process until smooth.  Return the mixture to the pan, add the remaining can of broth, and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer, add half the butter, and cook until the liquid reduces to about 3 cups, stirring frequently.  Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

While the sauce is cooking down, dry the chicken breasts and cut into bit sized cubes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan and cook the chicken, in batches if necessary, until it is well browned.

Transfer the chicken to the sauce and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Add the cream to the sauce and stir to incorporate.  Simmer for 5 minutes more and then serve over rice.

{printable recipe}

Butter Chicken

I like to think that what we call a dish is a pretty reliable indication of what the main components are.  For instance, if I say lemonade, you can pretty easily discern that a main ingredient is lemons.  If I say eggplant parmesan, you would most likely guess it has at least some eggplant in it.  And if I say bbq chicken, you would expect chicken bathed in some type of barbeque sauce.

So would someone kindly tell me what role butter plays in butter chicken?  Since the answer seems to be “nearly nothing”, why in the world is it called butter chicken?  When I hear butter chicken, I’m thinking the chicken is going to be dressed in some type of rich, buttery sauce.  I am most certainly not expecting my chicken to be swimming in a spiced tomato yogurt sauce.

Which is not to say that I didn’t enjoy butter chicken.  Or that I wouldn’t make butter chicken again.  I just think that when the powers that be were handing out recipe names, someone was distracted when butter chicken’s turn came up.  I really shouldn’t fault the recipe that it has a bad name.  You shouldn’t either.  Forget I even brought the matter up.

Butter Chicken

BAH Note:  I was so thrown by the fact that there is  so little butter in butter chicken that I failed to pay attention to the fact that the chicken needs to sit in the marinade overnight.  So not only was I disappointed by a lack of butter, but I had to wait an extra day to find out whether this was a deal breaker.

Adapted from Anna Johnston

  • 6 ounces plain greek yogurt
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 14.5 ounces petite diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Combine the yogurt, lemon juice, tumeric, garam masala, chili, cumin, and ginger in a bowl.  Stir to fully combine.  Add the chicken and stir well to completely coat the chicken.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Heat the butter and oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, cardamom, cinnamon, and bay leaf and cook for approximately 5 to 7 minutes or until the onion begins to soften.  Reduce the heat to low and add the chicken, marinade, paprika, diced tomato, and chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the cream and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Serve over rice and enjoy.

{printable recipe}