We had a last-minute dinner party for some friends the other night. Frankly it wasn't the best timing for me to be spending an entire day cooking--we're still recovering from the last of our colds and we have a jam packed schedule for the coming week. But, our good friends had their parents in town, and we'd been promising to have them over for Indian food for a very very long time. I figured that life can be uncertain and it's best to seize the day!
I made fried paneer pieces for an appetizer. For the main meal I served chicken korma, a green bean sabji, tadka dhal, a cucumber raita, rice, and roti. For dessert we had some kaju burfi and masala chai. With the exception of the roti and the burfi, which I got from the Indian grocery because I just didn't have the time, everything was homemade from scratch. These are all items that I've made numerous times before so that made things a bit easier. Still, that much cooking and preparation (lots of chopping!) is time consuming, especially when interrupted constantly by the needs of an 8 month old. In my haste, however, I discovered an easier way to do something!
I had some boneless skinless chicken breasts in the freezer so I took those out the night before and put them in the fridge to defrost. They had defrosted slightly the next day so I put them out on the counter for a little while while I was getting to them. (NOTE: defrosting meat on the counter is generally a no-no, but I was there all the time and checking on them and it was a fairly short time period and at no time did the temperature of any part of the meat rise above the temperature in my refrigerator, so I figured that common sense could rule in this instance.)
The korma requires the chicken to be cut into 1 inch cubes. I was ready to cut the chicken up before the chicken was entirely defrosted and ready for ME, but I figured I'd give it a go since time was short. I sometimes use my food shears when I need to cut up chicken. (Go ahead and sneer, food snobs . . . I'm a busy mom, not a professional chef!) I started trimming and cutting--and it was actually a LOT easier to cut the chicken while it was partially frozen! The hardest part of handling raw boneless chicken is that it can be rubbery and a bit slimy and sort of slides/flops around on the cutting board--cutting it while it was still a bit frozen and stiff made it much more manageable and enabled nice neat even pieces. The chicken was about the same texture/frozenness as a frozen fruit popsicle, if that gives any indication. Here's a picture of this in process. If you give this a technique a shot, let me know what you think!