Friday, September 21, 2007

Jay's Amazing Curried Chicken

Judging from the photo, you might not think a whole lot of this dish. I'll give you that much. The presentation leaves a little something to be desired, to be sure. But bear with me here, my friends, because I promise you, this is truly something special...

Anyone who's ever worked the night shift on "The Hill" (which is to say, OHSU's main campus) has inevitably made their way down to the 3rd floor cafeteria, sometime after 2:00 am, drawn by the intoxicating smell of the work of a brilliant Indo-Fijian chef known to us only as "Jay."

Nobody knows this man's last name. We can't even be sure that "Jay" is really his first name. He's a mysterious figure who gives away few clues as to his background, other than the fact that he grew up in Fiji's Indian community and at some point, under circumstances unknown, made his way to Portland. But his history notwithstanding, Jay's way with curry is legendary among the shadowy community of freaks and misfits who work the graveyard shift at this most revered of Portland institutions. As soon as the clock strikes 2:00 am, a hungry zombie crowd of doctors, nurses and technicians alike collect en masse in the bowels of the hospital to get their share of the best curry in Southwest Portland, if not the Western Hemisphere...

A few months ago, the OHSU Sleep Disorders Clinic (which, as many of you know, is where I make my living) relocated to a site off-campus. So on one of my last shifts on the Hill, I made my way down to the cafeteria, pulled Jay aside and persuaded him to share with me the secret of his etherial Curried Chicken. He graciously obliged, and I've been sitting on this recipe ever since. I finally got around to making it this evening for a couple of friends of mine. I was worried that Jay may have sandbagged me, perhaps left out a crucial ingredient or two to throw me off the trail, but as it turns out, my concerns were completely unfounded. What I made this evening was pretty much exactly what I used to enjoy so much all those months ago on the Hill. So without any further ado, I give you Jay's Amazing Curried Chicken...

The ingredients:
Two lbs chicken thighs
One cup chicken stock
One small onion, finely chopped
Four cloves garlic, minced
One Tbsp ginger, minced
One Tbsp Masala curry powder
One Tbsp cumin
Two cinnamon sticks
Two Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil and butter

The process:
Bone the chicken thighs and cut into bite-size chunks. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of butter in a large saute pan over medium heat, and add the onion. Saute until just translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to saute for another minute. Add the chicken and cook until it just begins to brown. Add the chicken stock, lemon juice, and cinnamon sticks, reduce heat to medium low, and continue to cook until stock has reduced by about half. Remove cinnamon sticks. Add curry powder, cumin, a generous pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper, and continue to cook for about ten minutes. If at any point the liquid reduces too much, add a little water. When all is said and done, it should look something like this:

Serve with rice and a cold beer, and imagine yourself transported to the lower stories of Oregon's pre-eminint medical school! I should mention that Jay also makes beef and lamb versions of this dish, so feel free to experiment with those meats as well. And enjoy!


Trisha said...


This II will definately have to make! It looks delish and seems easy enough to make. =)

tommy said...

This is a good one to make in bulk and take to work for a week in Tupperware containers. Your fellow Saginaw High faculty peeps will go insane with jealousy from the smell alone...

Silvia said...

Just have to say this sounds delicious! I'm hosting the Make it from scratch! carnival this week and am adding your post to it! You can see last week's carnival here:

tommy said...

You rock, Silvia! I'm sure you'll enjoy Jay's curry. If you're ever in Portland, make sure to stop by the OHSU cafeteria anytime after 2 am!

Silvia said...

Thanks! I will. And if not me, my husband will for sure. :) Uh, if they let him in.