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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Coconut Chicken Curry

Today's post is a recipe I discovered on a favorite of the blogs I follow, My Kitchen Cafe. It's practical and yummy, all at the same time.

I love a good curry, but haven't been especially successful at making them at home. For some reason, the finished product never seems like it's good enough to justify the time invested. But this recipe is a glorious exception. It's relatively simple and exquisitely delicious. It's universally loved at our house. And I hope you love the odor as much as we do, because it will hang around the house for several days. We just look at it as one of the positive by-products of making the meal.

Mel, the author of My Kitchen Cafe, suggests taking the recipe to the simmer phase early in the day and then pouring it in the crockpot to finish on low for four to five hours. I think this is a lovely idea, but it would require thinking four or five hours ahead, which often does not happen when I'm in charge of the meal. We serve it over jasmine rice with any kind of Asian or vegetable sides that suit your fancy.

Coconut Chicken Curry
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch chunks or strips
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons curry powder (we are especially fond of Penzey's sweet curry, which a thoughtful friend shared with us)
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika (substitute cayenne if you want it hotter; we don't)
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves minced garlic
4 medium red potatoes, cut into chunks
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, Italian style
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons of sugar (no wonder it is good)

Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat the oil, curry powder, and paprika in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-low heat for two minutes, until fragrant but not burned. Turn the heat up to medium and stir in the onions and garlic; cook 7-9 minutes or so until the onions are very clear. Add the chicken, tossing lightly to coat with the curry oil and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the chicken is no longer pink and is cooked through or nearly cooked through (it will continue to simmer in the next step). Add potatoes, coconut milk, tomatoes, tomato sauce and sugar into the pan. Stir to combine. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 30-40 minutes. The sauce thickens slightly upon standing. Serve with jasmine or brown rice.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Secret to Cooking Jasmine Rice

I'm not making an obscene gesture to the rice. I'm showing the secret to cooking jasmine rice.

We discovered soon after we bought a 50 pound bag of jasmine rice that the proportion of water to rice required in the rice cooker was different than say, Japanese rice. Our friend Michelle and her mom insisted that if you put your middle finger on top of the rice and then fill with water until it reaches the first knuckle, the rice will turn out just right.

I don't know how it works; I realize that people have vastly different finger sizes and that the measurement seems to require a great deal of subjective judgment. But it works. We've had perfect jasmine rice every time I've done it this way.

That's it. That's the secret.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Chicken Adobo

Chicken Adobo is a Filipino classic. We've tried making it many different ways; one of the most fun efforts was when our friend Michelle and her mom, who is from the Philippines, came over to teach us their method. We made a huge pot of adobo along with many other tasty treats.

This recipe is a slight modificiation of the one Michelle taught us. I have to warn you that it will smell up your house for quite a few days with a potent aroma. But it's fairly simple, exceptionally delicious and also quite inexpensive.

Chicken Adobo
(Makes 6 main dish servings)

12 bone-in chicken thighs (I take the skin off because it's healthier and also because I don't think there's anything quite so creepy as boiled chicken skin on your plate)
2 cups soy sauce
1  cup white  vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
4 teaspoons minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1 large onion, sliced in large slices
fresh ground black pepper to taste (other recipes we've tried call for whole peppercorns; one thing I like about this recipe is that you don't have to pick out the pepper corns).
Trim skin and excess fat from chicken. Put chicken in single layer in heavy pan. Mix other ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook on very low simmer for 1/2 hour, then turn chicken and cook additional 1/2 hour. Remove chicken and place on broiler tray or in shallow glass casserole which will fit under your broiler.

Strain liquid to remove onion pieces and bay leaves. Drain off as much fat as possible, using a fat seperater if you have one. After fat is removed, boil down the liquid until the sauce is thick enough to barely coat your spoon.

Preheat the broiler. Put chicken under broiler for 5-10 minutes. Turn and broil the other side another 5-10 minutes (depending on how hot your broiler gets). Serve immediately.