Turmeric is the golden darling of good health. This brilliant orange-fleshed root (in the same family as ginger) is beloved for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, not to mention the colorful hue it lends to food. Most cooks are familiar with the dried orange-yellow powder found in the spice aisle, which lends a bitter pungency to foods across India and the Caribbean. It’s the main ingredient in curry powder, and what gives bright-yellow mustard the color we all know and love.
Use Two Types of Turmeric for the Best Golden Chicken
Until recently, fresh turmeric root was difficult to find in traditional supermarkets. Only in recent years has it started appearing in the produce aisle of specialty food stores and health food stores. (We likely have the juicing/smoothie craze to thank for that.) In truth, the fresh root does not have as much punch as the dried, but sometimes that is welcome. It can be used in place of garlic when sautéing vegetables, and pairs beautifully with anything that calls for fresh ginger. Turmeric, like ginger, has a thin, papery skin that can be minced along with it (just give it a scrub first). Unlike ginger, it is not fibrous, but still needs to be minced small, as it does very little softening during cooking.
This chicken recipe uses both fresh and dried turmeric to boost its flavor, color, and overall healthfulness. To highlight its brilliant color, a bit of heavy cream is added to the simmer sauce so the whole dish is bathed in a yellow glow. This sauce is so good you’ll want to be sure to serve it alongside a heap of fluffy jasmine or basmati rice, so not a drop is left behind.
Creamy Turmeric Chicken Skillet
Prep time: 10 minutes to 15 minutes ; cooking time: 30 minutes to 35 minutes
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh turmeric root
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- Cooked basmati or jasmine rice, for serving
- Chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, for garnish
Melt the butter in a 12-inch or larger skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, fresh turmeric, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the chicken on a large plate with the smooth-top side facing up. Season with salt and all of the ground turmeric.
Push the onions to the outer edges of the pan and place the chicken, seasoned-side down, in a single layer in the middle of the pan. Season the chicken with more salt. Cook, undisturbed, until the chicken just begins to brown, no longer than 3 to 4 minutes (any longer and the turmeric will start to burn).
Using tongs, flip the chicken and cook for 2 minutes more. Pour in the wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for 1 minute, pour in the cream and broth, and stir gently to combine.
Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the chicken is tender and cooked through, and registers at least 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, 18 to 22 minutes. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.