So we have grown our own Carolina Reapers, the hottest pepper on the planet (at least as of fall 2017). The question now becomes what to do with them. Of course, hot sauce is a must and we successfully created our own edible sauce. Now we move on to a full dish that incorporates the reaper! In this post we will show you how we made two British Indian Chicken dishes at one time, one mild and one crazy hot.
Our online search shows that a British company, Chili Wizards, has created a spice blend using the Carolina Reaper. This blend even comes with its own recipe for Chicken Phall. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find this recipe online, but we were able to blow up the picture of the recipe to get a pretty good idea of what we are dealing with. So time to do our riff on Phall.
Phall is a “Indian” dish that was actually created in England. It is considered the hottest widely available curry dish. We learned about this dish at our kid’s favorite curry spot, World Curry in the Pacific Beach area of San Diego. This restaurant features curries from all over the world and the Cole family has been coming here since it opened in 1995. One day Dad Cole got crazy and ordered the Phall, despite the warnings of the waitress. It was only after giving up halfway through that he noticed that if you can eat the entire serving you get your name on a plaque.
If we are going to cook a Phall we know this is not going to be a full meal. We need another dish that everyone can actually eat a full serving of without tearing up their insides. So sticking with the British Indian curry theme. we decided to do double duty and also make the milder Tikka Masala. This dish is often found in Indian restaurants, but really it is most popular in England. Like with its Phall dish, World Curry lists Tikka Masala’s origin country as England.
Sous Vide to the Rescue
To cook the chicken we brought out our favorite meat cooker, the Anova Precision Cooker, a sous vide machine. This tool is incredibly easy to use and cooks meat to the precise temperature. It basically heats up a water bath to the desired done temperature of your meat and you end up with your meat cooked throughout to a precise, consistent level. It also works great for steak but is perfect for not overcooking chicken.
Each recipe calls for 2 lbs of chicken so we simply put four pounds in a bag, sealed it with our Waring Pistol Vacuum sealer and let it cook at 147 degrees for 2 hours. Now lots of people are going to note that the government’s USDA food safety guide says chicken needs to be cooked to 165 degrees to be safe. However, most sous vide recipes call for cooking chicken to the 140 to 150 range.
Serious Eats has a great guide to why this is okay. Basically it means that chicken cooked to 145 degrees needs to be held at that temperature for 9.2 minutes until is is fully pasteurized and safe. At 165 it is instantly pasteurized and there is no issue. Because we are holding our chicken at 147 degrees for a long time we are fine. Serious Eats claims you can go as low as 136 (it needs to stay at that temperature for over an hour) and recommends a temperature between 140 to 145. We have found that 147 is our preferred temp.
If you don’t have a sous vide machine you can simply cook the chicken on the stovetop. Either way you simply cut the cooked chicken into bite sized chunks and set aside to add to both dishes as the last step. The other combined step for these recipes is our onion and garlic puree. Puree onions in the food processor has been a great way to stop our kids objecting to onion chunks. They didn’t complain when it was invisible. The kids are older and less picky, but pureed onion and garlic adds a rich, consistent flavor. But note, we also sauteed some large onion and pepper chunks for the Tikka Masala. This is not traditional, but it is a good way to get some extra veggies in our system.
It is possible to do great deal of double duty on spice preparation. We have several ways to grind our own spices. For our own fresh black pepper we like to grind it on demand and the best tool for that is our $20 Salton coffee grinder. Other spices can be done in the coffee grinder, but in many cases a basic mortar and pestle works fine. This way you don’t have the cleaning issues you have with the grinder. For ginger we find that this inexpensive Microplane grater works best once you trim the outer layer.
The scary part is dealing with the Carolina Reapers, As discussed these things are dangerous and you need to wear gloves and not touch them with your bare hands. We carefully cut our dried peppers and blended just half a teaspoon into a paste using our Nutri Ninja. Unfortunately, while washing out the Ninja, our daughter got a speck of pepper on her hand. It burned for well over an hour (a solution of vinegar and corn starch finally helped). In other words, this is serious stuff, proceed with caution!
Now it is simple matter of cooking both dishes side by side on the stove in separate saucepans. This is way too much food for a family of four but we often cook in bulk. Using our food saver we freeze complete meals for a quick future dinner. In this instance we were simply sampling the Phall and freezing most of it for a latter meal. Now we need some adventurous guests!