Chicken curry off the bone
Looked down on by some, chicken curry off the bone and chips from chippy alley is a Cardiff institution. Much adored by countless people after watching Wales in the rugby or a night out in the city.
To my mind, it perfectly encapsulates Cardiff. A mishmash dish of multiple cultures for the working man. Ideal to represent a city that grew rapidly from a small town in the Victorian era to a city to service the South Wales coal industry populated with workers from all over the world.
The secret ingredient
Chicken curry off the bone is basically stewed chicken with curried chicken gravy. The better the quality of the stock used to make the gravy, the better the ‘curry’ will taste. And what is the secret ingredient you ask? Apples.
Yup you heard that right, apples. Sweet/sharp eating apples are fried up with onions and made into a gravy with good quality chicken stock and curry powder. The sweetness and sharpness of the apples is what gives the sauce it’s irresistible flavour.
In season I use a sharper eater apple or sharp cider apple from my orchard. Examples such as Ashmead’s Kernel or Woolbrook Pippin are great. Any of the sharper eating apples from the store would be perfect as well.
Making the stock
To do it properly, you need home-made chicken stock. Below is a recipe for home-made chicken stock.
In my case I butchered a whole chicken and used the meat for the dish and used the carcass for the stock. You could just as easily use a leftover chicken carcass from a roast and buy the meat separately.
I’d recommend using a sharp knife if butchering a carcass, mine was pretty blunt and made getting the meat off the bones a pita…
Simple stock recipe
- 1 Chicken carcass.
- 1 Carrot, peeled and chopped.
- 1 Onion, halved.
- 1 Leek, chopped.
- 1 Celery Rib, chopped.
- 1 head of garlic. halved.
- 1 tsp salt.
- 1/2 tsp pepper.
- Fresh herbs (thyme, oregano, rosemary, parsley etc.).
- 1 clove.
- Add all the ingredients to a large pan and just cover with water.
- Bring to the boil then simmer for 3-4 hours until reduced.
- Strain and reserve the stock.
Cooking the chicken
The meat for chicken curry off the bone should be fall apart tender and flavoursome. By far the easiest way to cook the chicken is to use a slow cooker set to high. I’d recommend adding a small amount of liquid to the slow cooker so the heat transfers evenly while cooking. Dry cider is great for this and adds a wonderful flavour to the chicken.
Slowcooker shredded chicken
- Meat from one whole chicken roughly chopped or a mixture of boneless chicken breasts and thighs.
- 1/2 pint of hedge kipper dry cider
- Add meat and cider to the slow-cooker.
- Cook on high until fall apart tender – 4-5 hrs.
- Remove the chicken from the slow-cooker and add the liquid to the stock.
Making the curry sauce
Chicken curry off the bone sauce is simplicity itself. Fry up onions and apples until well browned and full of lovely caramelised flavours. Then make a simple roux of flour and curry powder with the oil in the pan and blend in the chicken stock.
Chip shop chicken curry off the bone sauce
- 2 tbsp sunflower oil.
- 1 medium onion chopped.
- 2 sweet / sharp eating apples. Peeled, cored and sliced.
- 2 cloves of garlic.
- 1 tsp mild curry power (can use madras for more strength).
- 2 tbsp plain flour.
- 300-500ml chicken stock.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Chopped hot red chillies (optional).
- Add the oil to a saucepan and fry the onion, apple, garlic and chillies (if using) until well browned. Don’t worry if it browns onto the sides of the pan. The sauce will remove all the wonderful caramelised sugars later 🙂
- Sprinkle the curry powder and flour over the onions then cook for a minute or two.
- Slowly add the stock to the saucepan, a small quantity at a time. Stir until thoroughly mixed between each addition. This will stop lumps forming in the sauce.
- Season to taste with black pepper and salt. If you are a chilli head feel free to spice it up at this point….
Putting it all together
All that’s left now is to pile a plate high with chips or rice and lay on the shredded chicken and ladle the sauce over everything.
For the full welsh experience serve with both chips and rice ‘alf & ‘alf as we can never make our minds up….