Curried Chicken Muffins a la Mama

This is an odd photograph, to me. If we’d had more time, I would have spent some time with it and redone the sucker. But it’s been an odd week and reflects my mood completely.
This week marked the ending of Is My Blog Burning #13, cupcakes & muffins. Surely you sawr the entry for Curried Chicken muffins on Wednesday? They were terribly good, but left a lot of room for improvement. Even I was able to come up with some decent changes. Before I could make my move, Mama jumped in and whipped up a batch while I was at work yesterday (Thursday). Since I had the image I asked her to write up what she did and why. She did, and how. It’s a longin’ and a goodin’.
I enjoyed the changes, the muffin was more homogenous than my attempt. Plus it had a far nicer curry flavor to it. I have to say though, I did miss the chunks of onion. The first batch had far too many, but still it would be nice to have some caramelized yummies. Oh, and she was able to dry it up a bit. Less oil and less onion, you bet.
Go see what Mama was up to on Thursday, ith gooood.

Curried Chicken Muffins a la Mama
Wet Ingredients:
1 can of Trader Joe’s canned Chicken in BROTH (they have it canned in water, too, but remember, broth = more chickeny flavor love.)
1 big, fat clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons minced cilantro
1 cup plain yogurt (I used Strauss Creamery)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup melted butter (I used Trader Joe’s salted butter ‘cause I was out of my favorite Strauss Creamery lightly salted butter)
2 eggs, beaten until a little foamy and lemon-colored
4 teaspoons green curry paste (I used Thai Kitchen)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
a pinch of asafoetida (a.k.a. hing)
1 teaspoon salt
Dry Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached flour (I used Stone Buhr, my favorite)
1 cup whole-wheat flour (I used Stone Buhr, my favorite)
2 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
The process:
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Have all your ingredients at room temperature before you start. Why room temperature? All good bakers know that you need to have your ingredients at room temperature in order for the right chemical reactions to occur for your baked masterpiece. Besides, if I don’t tell you this after taking Shuna’s class, she just may make me into a tea biscuit. She has the knife skills you know.
Into a small bowl, use a fork to lightly whisk the flours and baking powder together. I whisk rather than sift, ‘cause its much less effort than picking up the sifter… and yes, I’m that lazy in the kitchen. Be careful not to whisk so vigorously that your dry ingredients go flying all over the kitchen, ‘cause that’s just silly.
Now, in a medium-sized bowl, break up the chicken with fork. With a big-ass spatula, fold in the minced garlic, chopped onion, chopped cilantro, yogurt, lemon juice, and spices until nicely blended.
A word about the spices (which I hope you read before you venture to try this recipe): if you use freshly ground cumin seed and coriander seed, cut back on the total amount you use unless you want super pungent muffins. My spices have been laying around in the masala babba (spice tin) for too long a time, so I used them liberally in this recipe. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how much to hold back, so SEASON IT TO YOUR TASTE!!! Gently fold in beaten egg.
Gently fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until everything is nicely mixed, and then back the hell off the batter (that’s “mama-speak” for don’t over do it with the mixing.) Get out your prettiest muffin paper and put them into your muffin tin. Spray the muffin papers with a little non-stick cooking spray. I used Trader Joe’s Soybean Cooking Oil Spray.
Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes. Give the muffin tin a 180-degree turn halfway through the cooking time. The muffins should look like muffins and a wee bit brown – not burnt – around the edges. Let the muffins cool in the muffin tin on a rack.
Eat them.
Method to my Madness:
First off, I substituted canned chicken for freshly cooked chicken. I did that because the canned chicken in broth packs a big punch, and the flavor is consistent through out. The canned chicken flaked apart and dispersed more evenly throughout the batter. This way, I had chicken flavor in every bite, and I didn’t have to pick apart the muffin looking for chickeny love. The other benefit was I didn’t have to cook it beforehand (lazy girl that I am), and I didn’t have to arm wrestle Biggles for it. We just don’t have freshly-cooked chicken lying around to spare for muffins. Of course, if you do, go ahead and use it instead of canned chicken. I’ll never know unless you tell me.
Then, I cut the onions down to 1/4 cup – the original amount that goes into the muffin batter. I didn’t feel like the muffin needed decoration, so I didn’t need the extra onions.
Next, I added a clove of garlic to keep the batter from being too oniony. I thought garlic would deepen the register of the flavor; make it more “savory” as opposed to just “oniony.”
Then, I substituted butter for oil, because I live the flavor better, but I only use half the amount of fat, because it just wasn’t needed. Not need extra fat? Yes, it’s true, and that’s because the first batch of muffins were too moist and not quite muffin-like in my opinion. I sacrificed fat for better muffin texture — muffinicity.
Next, I cut back on the green curry paste by one third, because the first batch of muffins had more heat than savory flavor. For savoriness, I added the ground cumin seeds, ground coriander seeds, turmeric powder, and asafetida. I thought this would help to bring down the heat by rounding out the flavor; give my mouth something else to appreciate other than heat.
Last, I substituted half whole wheat flour for white flour, because I knew the whole wheat would absorb the moisture from the onions and cilantro nicely, and… that was the only flour I had left in the kitchen, my blended bread flour.
The result:
After all my changes, I ended up with a moist and meaty muffin that had the tanginess of yogurt, the savoriness of a mild curry, but with just a bit of spicy hotness towards the end. The best improvements were the loss of egginess, the muffins tasted super-yummy when fresh from the oven, and the muffins finally were muffin-shaped – high-domed as opposed to flat-topped. The part of the muffin that still needs to be improved is the addition of the meat.
As for the egginess factor, I can’t say why it changed, but it did change and I’m happy about that. The other batch of muffins tasted okay warm, but lots, lots better when cold which is really great if you need picnic food. I didn’t want picnic food.
I’m very happy this new batch had rounded tops. I think it add to the overall muffinicity. Why did the shape change? I’m thinking the tops looked nice this time around, because there were no caramelized onions weighing them down during the baking.
Unfortunately, Biggles missed the onions on top. On the flip side, I think they could happily re-enter the picture as long as they’ve been cooked in butter (not oil) and placed on top of the muffins AFTER the muffins have baked.
Last, but not least, the meat chunks were a bit too small for a happy meat muffin. Meat muffins should have big chunks of meat. There enough meat flavor in the muffin to earn the Meathenge seal of approval at least, so I won’t ditch the canned chicken altogether. …but, I do think I could further improve the muffin’s meat chunkiness by adding cubed chicken. That’s right – methinks this muffin needs even MORE MEAT! That will really dial it all in.

5 thoughts on “Curried Chicken Muffins a la Mama

  1. Meat muffins! My god, the thought never even occurred to me! Its like finding out that something you didn’t know should exist does exist and now you don’t know how you could have gone through life without it because it makes so much sense and you just want to shout to the heavens “MEAT MUFFINS! YES!!!!”

  2. Thanks so much!! I’m so rarely in the kitchen these days that I often feel like a stranger in there. Crazy, huh? Hmm… Maybe baking is one of those “it’s just like riding a bicycle” things — it all comes back to you as soon as you’re on the saddle… or, in this case, turn on the oven.

  3. Hi, Meathenge Family!
    Good to have an entry from Mama! I loved the article and “muffinicity”–it’s the bestest new word I’ve seen in a long time…
    And I have never considered canned chicken before–thanks for the hint!
    Another cooking Mama,