Sri Lankan-Style Poached Chicken, with Saffron, Sultanas, and Wine

Confession — I don’t like chicken breast. Oh, it’s fine in a chicken salad, or in a sandwich with plenty of mayo, but on its own, for dinner? I would much rather have flavorful, moist thighs.

But sometimes my husband buys it, so what’s a girl to do? Poach them — at least poaching helps keep chicken breast as moist and flavorful as possible. Here’s a fusion approach with Sri Lankan spicing, adding in butter and wine.

I kept this dish mild; it felt appropriate for the gentle poaching process, and also meant my kids were happy to eat it. (But if you wanted to add a few chopped green chilies, that would also be fine.)

2 T oil or ghee
2 c. red or yellow onion, chopped fine
1 T ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cinnamon stick
3 cardamom pods
3 cloves
1 stalk curry leaves (about a dozen)
1 t. salt
1/2 – 1 t. black pepper (to your taste)
3 large chicken breasts
1-2 pinches of saffron threads
1 c. white wine, plus water to cover
2 T butter
1 T lime juice

1/2 c. sultanas (golden raisins)

1. In a large pan (one with a lid), sauté onions in oil or ghee on medium-high, adding in ginger, garlic, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and curry leaves. Stir as needed, until onions are golden-translucent.

2. Add chicken breasts, saffron, white wine, and enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn down heat to a simmer; cook 15 minutes, until breasts are cooked through.

3. Remove chicken to a plate and keep warm. Turn heat back up to high, add sultanas, and and boil liquid until reduced to a thick sauce, about a quarter of its previous volume. Stir in butter and lime juice, then taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

4. Return chicken to the pan and reheat with the sauce. Serve hot with rice or bread.

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