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    Indian Inspired Chicken and Squash Stew

    Last night I was tempted to order Indian food, but I knew that I’d order way too much and feel bad about stuffing that last pakora down my gullet. Instead, I used what I had in the freezer, refrigerator, and pantry, and cobbled together this Indian Inspired Chicken and Squash Stew. The warm spices and bold sauce satisfied my cravings, and because I bulked up the dish with winter squash, and added richness with yogurt, I was free from gluttonous guilt.

    Ingredients
    Dry Rub:
    2 teaspoons cumin
    ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon ground ginger
    ½ teaspoon salt
    ½ teaspoon black pepper
    Pinch cayenne pepper
    1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 5 pieces)
    1 tablespoon canola oil
    Sauce:
    3 slices hickory smoked bacon, cut into small pieces
    1 medium onion, cut into small dice
    1 small acorn squash or ½ small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into medium dice
    2 teaspoons cumin
    2 teaspoons turmeric
    ½ teaspoon salt
    1 bay leaf
    1 tablespoon grated ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
    ½ jalapeno, seeded and minced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
    1, 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
    ½ cup chicken stock
    ½ cup full-fat plain yogurt (Icelandic Skyr works very well)
    ¼ cup minced cilantro

    Directions
    Combine the dry rub spices then sprinkle them on both sides of the chicken thighs.

    Heat a grill pan to medium heat and add the oil. Arrange the chicken thighs in a single layer and cook for 6 minutes per side. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and cut into large chunks.

    Meanwhile, assemble the sauce. Set a medium sauce pot over medium heat and add the bacon pieces. Cook until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crispy. Transfer the bacon to a small bowl with a slotted spoon.

    Add the diced onion and squash to the bacon fat and sweat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Sprinkle in the cumin, turmeric, salt, and bay leaf, then stir to coat the vegetables. Mix in the ginger, minced jalapeno, and minced garlic, and stir until the garlic is fragrant.

    Stir in the vinegar, tomato sauce, and chicken stock, then fold in the chicken pieces. Reduce the meat to low, cover the pot, and simmer the sauce until the squash is tender and the chicken is fully cooked, about 15 minutes.

    Remove the pot from the heat, then stir in the yogurt and half of the minced cilantro.

    Serve with naan or rice.

    Kerry Stantonhttp://chefkerrystanton.com
    Kerry Stanton is a recipe writer, culinary instructor, and restaurant consultant. She writes for Dirty Water Media and the Boston Herald.“I will not settle for anything less than exceptional food at every meal. This doesn’t mean that I demand excessive extravagance or prized ingredients for breakfast, lunch and dinner - I just want well-cooked, properly seasoned food, presented beautifully. I think we all deserve this much.”

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