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Epcot Food & Wine Festival Recipe: African Butter Chicken

I kicked. I screamed. I protested. But despite my best efforts, it happened. I finally went to Walt Disney World.

My husband grew up taking family trips to the "happiest place on earth," but I did not. In fact, not only did my parents not take us there, but they railed against the commercialism and expense of it all, saying things like (on Christmas Day during the Walt Disney World parade): 

"The whole point of this stupid parade is to get people to spend thousands of dollars on their stupid vacations. I don't think so." 

That's my take on Disney to this day: Over-rated and over-priced.

The only way I would agree to this trip was because it was billed by my husband as a "foodie adventure." The annual Epcot Food & Wine Festival is supposed to be a really big deal, so I figured 1) I could at least blog about it or get some new recipes and 2) I could practice that whole "marriage is about compromise"-thing.

FOOD FESTIVAL TRAVEL TIPS

The Epcot Food & Wine Festival is an annual event held at Walt Disney World every Fall. It runs from September to November.

If you're planning a visit to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival, avoid Saturday nights at all costs. The lines are so long, and you have to wait in two lines: one long line to purchase the food, and another long line to pick up the food.

Add to that a torrential downpour that shut down the festival, and you can guess how I was feeling about Walt Disney World on that particular Saturday night.

The only saving grace was our return two days later on Monday, when the weather had cleared up and the crowds were much smaller.

Then I discovered the little festival "passport," a little book where you check off the dishes you've tried and put a sticker beside each one. It was like a "to do list" - and this list-making nerd was suddenly kind of okay with being at the Epcot Food & Wine Festival. 

"Wait! Where's the sticker for Greece? Ooh! And we did Hawaii! STICKER! CHECK!"

If you do any online/social media research about the festival, you'll see some pretty indulgent and over-the-top foods (Belgian waffles topped with berry compote and whipped cream, escargot croissants with garlic and parsley, lobster rolls, etc. ) - but it IS possible to not compromise your health and/or goals and still enjoy the festival. We keep things reasonably healthy. We went for the protein and veggie dishes, and avoided pastas, breads, sandwiches, and most of the desserts. 

One dessert I didn't avoid: a Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich after a day of hauling our butts all over the park. I was supposed to share it with my husband but...I housed the mouse and ate every last bite. 

One dessert I didn't avoid: a Mickey Mouse ice cream sandwich after a day of hauling our butts all over the park. I was supposed to share it with my husband but...I housed the mouse and ate every last bite. 

This African Butter Chicken was one of our favorites. It was also voted the BEST DISH by the cast of ABC's "The Chew" (it's a daytime talk/cooking show with hosts like Mario Batali.) After one taste I knew the dish had to be pretty fat loss-friendly, and once I bought the cookbook and saw the recipe, I couldn't wait to make it! 

The original recipe is made with heavy cream, but since the dish has Indian spices, I went with light coconut milk. Such a good call - and it reduced the fat quite a bit and gave it even better flavor. This dish freezes really well, too! I served it with a green vegetable and brown rice.

Look who's wearing a Disney apron cooking a recipe from the Disney cookbook? WTAF and WHO AM I?! 

Look who's wearing a Disney apron cooking a recipe from the Disney cookbook? WTAF and WHO AM I?! 


Serves 4-6 - Adapted from The Epcot Food & Wine Festival Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

SAUCE
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 c. diced onion
1/2 c. diced green pepper
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. lemon juice
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 1/4 tsp. garam masala
1 1/4 tsp. chili powder
1 1/4 tsp. cumin
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 c. tomato sauce
1 c. light coconut milk
1/3 c. plain yogurt
coarse salt, freshly ground pepper

CHICKEN
4 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 lbs. boneless and skineless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1 Tb. olive or canola oil
1 Tbs. Arrowroot powder (cornstarch works as well)
1/4 c. reduced-sodium chicken broth
coarse salt, freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and green pepper and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

2. Add butter, lemon juice, garlic paste, ginger paste, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, bay leaves, and cayenne pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add tomato puree and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently

3. Reduce to low heat and add coconut milk and yogurt. Simmer 8-10 minutes.

5. Remove bay leaves and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and keep warm.

Chicken:

1. Combine garam masala and cayenne pepper in a bowl large enough to hold chicken. Toss with chicken until evenly coated; set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken and saute 5 minutes until browned.

3. Lower heat to medium-low and stir in 1/2 cup of sauce; simmer 3 to 5 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Stir in remaining sauce.

4. Whisk Arrowroot powder and chicken broth together in a small bowl. Stir into chicken and simmer 5 minutes, or until sauce thickens. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve over brown rice.