Boston's Cambodian-Inspired Chicken

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Nothing is more essentially American than the spirit of the Cambodian community in Lowell, Massachusetts--now practically a Boston first ring suburb. We shot a few scenes there, and this recipe reminds me of that day spent eating and cooking with my new friends there.

Serves 4-6



Ingredients
12 boneless, chicken thighs

4 tsp. salt

1 tbs. turmeric

2 tsp. cinnamon

3 tbs. peanut oil

10 dried whole California or Mexican chiles… arbols or other long red thin chiles

5 fresh red Thai chiles

4 stalks lemon grass, cleaned; tops and root trimmed and discarded

8 shallots, chopped

8 garlic cloves

1 cup ketchup

2/3 cup white vinegar

5 tbs. sugar

1 cup carrots, diced and blanched

1 cup cooked peas

40 fresh mint leaves


Instructions
Toss the chicken with half the salt, turmeric and cinnamon. Cut off and discard the chile stems, shake out the seeds. Mince the lemongrass. Place the dried chiles into a cup of boiling water and refresh for 10 minutes. Drain and puree them along with the fresh chiles, the shallot, garlic and lemongrass in a food processor. Reserve.

Heat the peanut oil in a large pan or wok over high heat. Brown the chicken well on both sides and set aside. Add the chile mixture to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until fragrant and mahogany colored. Lower heat to medium.

Add the chicken back to pan and cook, tossing in the chile mixture, until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. This will take about 7-8 minutes. Stir in the ketchup and vinegar, the remaining salt and the sugar. Cook for several minutes after the mixture boils to heat through and consolidate the flavors. Then add the vegetables and mint. Toss for a minute to heat through.

Platter and serve.