Monday, October 29, 2012

Fall recipes: one pot coconut chicken

It's time for me to admit a secret I've held in for many, many years: I've never been a huge fan of fall.

I have a feeling people out there might want to punch me in the face for stating such sacrilege, but fall just never did anything much for me. I actually never really understood what people went ga-ga over. I've always been a spring girl-- the flowers, the warmth, the rebirth of outdoor activities. Fall used to mean no more warm summer nights, too much pumpkin and cinnamon flavored foods (I don't hate them, just don't absolutely love them), and an impending, soul-crushing winter.

But for some reason I've been absolutely loving fall this year. The fashion. Spice-scented foods. The ability to turn on my oven. Relief from the hot summer days. Hearty meals. Gorgeous trees.

Wisconsin, early October 2012. (Beaver Lake?)

I guess for the first time I'm seeing what everyone else sees with fall. And I not only like what I'm seeing, but what I'm tasting as well...

Curried chicken with coconut milk and ginger. This meal, heavily spiced with fresh ginger and brightened with coconut milk, was the first time in months I turned on my oven. And wow, what a knock-out meal to re-christen my stove with! It got me instantly excited for all the hearty, full-flavored, simple dishes that will come out of my kitchen over the next few months. And while I'm still not looking forward to winter, I can at least be excited about the delicious, hibernation-worthy foods.

I'm sad to say that this lame photograph is all I have of this spectacular dish. The reason: I ate the entire pot before I realized that I hadn't taken a decent picture of my meal! And while I fear that my ugly picture will discourage you from trying the recipe, I hope that my words will sway you and mitigate your fears. This dish is one of the easiest, most flavorful, delicious, 1-pot meals you will ever make. So please, please, please make this dish. I promise it tastes 394,694,294 times better than my photograph looks.

Horrible photo (please don't judge me too harshly) but amazing dish! Curried ginger chicken with coconut rice. And if you want to see just how gorgeous this recipe can be, check out Shutterbean's blog. Hopefully now you'll want to make this dish, because it deserves to be in everyone's kitchen.

To counteract my horrific act of exposing your retina to such a shameful photo, let me remind you that fall can be much more beautiful than a bland photograph. Just imagine that the dish above tastes as good as the pictures below appear.

The Art Institute's Garden

It was so picturesque, I saw two couples taking engagement shots there. Loved this action shot.

My new macro lens, doin' its thang.

I loved this photograph that captured the cool statue contrasting with the warm rainbow-colored ivy.

See, my photography skills aren't too bad- when I'm armed with natural lighting and this new toy of mine:
100 mm macro was on my wish list for years. Finally caved!

Yours in finally appreciating all the joys and wonderful sights and flavors that fall has to offer,

Curried Chicken with Coconut Rice, adapted from Martha Stewart

Note: I prefer using chicken thighs instead of a cut up chicken because (a) they cook more evenly and (b) they're fattier and therefore infinitely more delicious than chicken breast. But feel free to use the whole cut up chicken as Martha suggests, or replace it with chicken breast for a healthier alternative.

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 to 4 pounds), cut into 10 pieces, or 8 - 10 pieces chicken thigh
4 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Coarse salt
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
5 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger (from a 3-inch piece)
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups basmati rice
1 can (13.5 ounces) unsweetened light coconut milk
Fresh cilantro leaves, for serving


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with rack in lower third.
2. Toss chicken with curry powder, cayenne, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat 2 teaspoons oil over high. In batches, cook chicken until browned on all sides, about 12 minutes total. Transfer to a large plate. (I kept the fat from the chicken in the pot to cook my onions with for the added flavor and did not add the oil in the next step; feel free to dump the fat in the garbage and use olive oil instead if you prefer.)
3. Reduce heat to medium and add 1 teaspoon each salt and oil, garlic, ginger, and onion. Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, until onion is translucent, 6 minutes.
4. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute.
5. Add rice, coconut milk, and 2 cups water; stir to combine and bring to a boil.
6. Arrange chicken in pot, skin side up, cover, and transfer to oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through and liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.
7. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve.


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