October 26, 2010

Ellen Hanson’s Chicken Curry {Naptime Tales from the Trenches}

Chicken Curry

Hand-me-down recipes are often the best of the bunch. Today Ellen Hanson is sharing one of her favorites, her mom’s unique recipe for Chicken Curry. These days Ellen leads the life of a busy New Yorker, heading up Ellen Hanson Designs, her own green and eco-sustainable design firm, and traveling around the country to work with clients. Despite her hectic schedule Ellen still makes time to fit great food into her daily life. As you’ll read, Ellen has fond memories of this delicious meal and still discusses it’s merits with her sister. It is perfect for a cozy dinner at home or for serving a crowd. In her post Ellen eloquently, and accurately, explains how this dish can easily be made in steps throughout the day while dealing with everyday household chaos. And, it brings with it the bonus of leftovers!

I learned this simple and flexible recipe from my Mom.  She has five kids of her own and we were always curious to try her latest dish from cooking class back in the 70’s.  In those days you couldn’t buy a rotisserie chicken, but that’s the secret update to this quick and easy meal.

Purchase an organic rotisserie chicken with no flavoring along with a couple of apples, an onion, and strained Greek yogurt.  First step- put your rice on with whatever method works best at your house, by the time it is ready your meal will be done.

While the kids are doing their homework (or their Lego creations), skin and cube both an apple and an onion. Toss them in a large saucepan along with a little vegetable oil. Saute on medium heat until they begin to soften, but not turn to mush.  If desired, add minced garlic and/or minced ginger. Sprinkle two teaspoons of curry powder and coat all ingredients thoroughly, then turn off the heat and fold in yogurt, salt, and pepper to taste.  You can hold the process at this point if you need to deal with other chaos in the house.

When you are back at the kitchen counter remove and discard the skin, then take the meat from the bone and cut into bite-sized chunks. (Bonus dish: chicken broth! Toss the carcass into a small stockpot along with any appropriate vegetables that might be in your crisping drawer. Cover with water and bring to a boil, then turn down to simmer for the rest of the evening.)

Chicken Curry

Just before serving gently fold the chicken chunks back into the sauce.  Heat carefully over low heat so the yogurt does not curdle.

My sister (with three boys at home) recently emailed requesting this recipe and reminded me why we especially loved this dish as kids. When serving, our mother would provide small bowls with chopped peanuts, shredded coconut, cilantro, and raisins. Passing around the condiments and customizing each of our servings made this a favorite family meal.


Ellen Hanson’s Chicken Curry

Makes 5 to 6 servings


1 whole rotisserie chicken with no extra flavorings
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cubed
1 apple, peeled and cubed
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder
17 ounces zero-fat Greek yogurt, strained
pinch Kosher salt
1 pinch freshly cracked pepper


1. In a large saucepan add the vegetable oil and warm over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Add the onion and apple and saute until soft, but not mushy. Add the minced garlic and finely chopped ginger and saute for another minute until fragrant.

2. Sprinkle the curry powder over the mixture in the saucepan and toss with a wooden spoon to coat all of the ingredients thoroughly. Then, turn off the heat and use a spatula to carefully fold in the yogurt, and salt and pepper to taste. *At this point the mixture can rest for a bit before resuming cooking at dinnertime.

3. Remove the meat from the rostisserie chicken and cut it into bite-size chunks. Right before you are ready to eat, fold the chicken into the yogurt mixture. Then, very carefully, turn the heat on low and warm the mixture through, but don’t let the yogurt curdle.

4. Serve with rice and condiments (see below).

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

I love Ellen’s note about the condiments she enjoyed most growing up: chopped peanuts, coconut, cilantro and raisins. Passing these around in bowls for everyone to add to their dish is a wonderful way for everyone to customize their meal. It’s also a great way to introduce kids to new flavors.

Naptime Stopwatch

20 minutes on the stovetop

Naptime Reviews

Recipes that are passed down tend to speak for themselves. I love that she and her sister are still making this for their loved ones, it proves that the best recipes truly stand the test of time.

4 Responses to “Ellen Hanson’s Chicken Curry {Naptime Tales from the Trenches}”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Caterham Business, Alltop Food. Alltop Food said: Tales from the Trenches: Ellen Hanson’s Chicken Curry http://bit.ly/b7rgrW […]

  2. Lauren says:

    LOVE it!!!!!!!!!! I am constantly on the search for VERY easy recipes. Can’t wait to use this one.

  3. Lizthechef says:

    I am so down for this perfect mid-week entree, almost as good as your salmon with leeks, Kelsey – thanks!

  4. […] happens to work at Ellen Hanson Designs. Do you remember when Ellen herself shared her recipe for amazing Chicken Curry? As you can see by the photographs (taken by their friend Kristy Knight) this is a design firm with […]