Sunday, June 24, 2012

Curry Chicken

Curry Chicken over Rice

So there's an amazing Thai food place right by Arizona State University's main campus that was introduced to me a couple years ago. Since then, I've fallen in love with Thai food. And since one of my favorite things to get at Thai Elephant is any of their curries particularly their Green Curry or Red Curry. Oh my god so yummy, I'm going to start to drool now. I saw this recipe and I felt the need to try it...and then buy a Thai food cookbook, so once I start playing around with those recipes I'm sure they'll make their way onto my blog. This recipe actually came from one of my Taste of Home cookbooks, it's really simple to make and it tastes pretty damn delicious.

So here's the recipe that I started with out of the cookbook...along with my additions

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
2 teaspoons of curry powder (I added more to taste, probably around an extra 1/2-1 tsp)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper (I probably easily doubled this because I love pepper)
1 small onion, chopped (small...medium...same difference)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1-1/2 cups uncooked instant rice
1 can (14oz)  coconut milk (I used Thai Kitchen Organic Lite Coconut Milk)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups baby spinach
1 cup chopped tomato

Sidenote: so I was making this for my roommates and one of them doesn't like tomatoes and he picks them out of anything I make--granted I used to do the same thing but with more than just tomatoes--so to make it easier I substituted 2 medium sized carrots sliced about 1/2 inch thick for the tomatoes. Also feel free to add any other veggies you want. Broccoli would be yummy in this, along with mushrooms if you like them. Probably somewhere from 1/2 up to 1 cup of the veggies you're adding, not too too much because you don't want to lose the chicken in the least I wouldn't want to.

So let's get started! First thing I did was sprinkle the chicken with the curry powder, salt, and pepper. In a large skillet, I used my Cuisinart nonstick sauté pan, cook the chicken and onion in the canola oil until the chicken is done. The chicken is done when there's no more pink, with chicken pink is bad. Very, very, very bad.

This is about when you can start cooking the rice. My rice that I had wasn't the 5 minutes instant cook, it's the one that takes like 20 minutes so it worked out perfectly timing wise.

So the chicken is cooked, yay! Now it's time to stir in the coconut milk and the tomato paste. I alternated how I added in the coconut milk and tomato paste. I added a little milk, a bit of the tomato paste, and so on and so on until everything was nicely mixed in like so...

See the tomato paste is nicely blended in with the coconut milk here.

Another bonus to adding the carrots and other veggies now is that it gives them time to soak up some of the curry flavor!

The recipe says to bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Because I added carrots and carrots are a very crunchy vegetable I wanted them to be cooked a little more so they would be soft, but obviously not mushy because mushy carrots taste weird and aren't very attractive to my taste buds. So I added in the carrots as I was bringing the chicken coconut milk mixture to a boil. I would recommend if you're opting to add in any other vegetables like broccoli and mushrooms to add them in at this point too so they can have the chance to cook in the mixture.

After you get this to a nice boil, then reduced the heat and let it simmer for about 5 minutes until it has thickened up a bit. I used this time to check on my rice make sure everything was going the right way. Now always, always, always taste what you're making as you're making it. During the 5 minutes simmer I tasted my food and added little bits of spices that I know I enjoy the taste of. Little bit of garlic powder, little bit of onion powder (I know we already have onion in there but I wanted just a little extra). I might have sprinkled some chili powder and just a tad bit of white pepper along with some more black pepper.

Always make sure you start off with just a small amount. Doesn't matter if you really like garlic powder you add 2 tablespoons of the stuff it's not gonna taste fantastic. Not to mention your breath won't be ideal either. This being a curry and making me drool as I think about how delicious the curries are at Thai Elephant I added just a bit of crushed red pepper flakes into the mixture as I went along to give it a little kick.

OK so once the curry has thickened up to your liking it's time to add the spinach (and tomatoes if you're including them). But before you do, if carrots are included maybe take a bite of one of the slices to see if they're cooked and softened up enough for your liking. The spinach (and tomatoes) will only be cooked for about 2-4 minutes, until the spinach is wilted, so nothing would throw off the texture of having nice juicy pieces of chicken, spinach and all that good stuff with a really hard crunch of a carrot. Soft crunch is good, hard crunch? Well that depends on you. Remember to keep the element temperature at that low/simmer level so the spinach can slowly wilt into perfection.

This is my Curry Chicken when the spinach was allllllmost completely cooked and wilted. I tested the carrots throughout the process to make sure they were nice and tender, the chicken remained juicy, and the spinach tasted yummy. Now all that was left to do was put it all together on a place over some rice! This recipe serves about 4 nice sized servings and according to my cookbook is relatively low in calories only about 520 calories per serving. Of course it varies with the type of rice and using the lite coconut milk probably reduces it a little bit. I liked to top my Curry Chicken with some crushed red pepper flakes to add a little spice to the dish.

There should be enough of the coconut milk curry sauce so you can drizzle some extra on top and really mix it in with the rice, it tastes so good when it's all mixed together! It'll look more like the title picture at the start of this blog. This one seems a little easier than the Boston Cream Cupcakes from last time, definitely less time consuming!

Voila! Yummy curry chicken done in about 30 minutes!

Alrighty, 'til next time!!

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