Chicken with Green Curry

Green-curry-paste-268x268

More pictures to come. I’m the worst photographer.

Oh, green curry, you are the best of all the curries. Nothing compares to your beautiful spiciness. I love red, panang, and masaman too, but not like you, green.

My daughter brought her boyfriend home recently and requested that I make green curry with chicken. I obliged, but wondered why she’s trying to impress him with my cooking instead of her own. Maybe she’s giving him a glimpse into his future if he marries her. Who knows?

Anyway, green curry is a dish I’ve been tinkering with for years. The older I get, the more flavor I want. The first version of this recipe I tried had a tablespoon of curry paste and a few drops of fish sauce. Unacceptable! It has evolved from mild, boring curry for timid Americans into a flavor explosion in your mouth (and sometimes guts, sorry for that).

Ingredients:

  1. 2 pounds chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces.
  2. 3-4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  3. 2-3 stalks lemon grass, just the white part in the  middle, smashed. (I usually just smash them a bit, then let them cook in the curry sauce and take them out before serving. A lot of people chop them up, but I find them too fibrous to enjoy)
  4. Green curry paste to taste. You can make your own if you like, but I’m very happy with the quality of the paste made by Thai Kitchen. My original recipe called for just a dollop of curry, but now I basically use the entire 4 oz. jar. Experiment to see what you like best. 
  5. Any veggies you like (Isn’t this recipe getting vague?) – I keep it pretty simple and just throw in some chopped bamboo shoots, but a Thai restaurant I frequent has a green curry with broccoli florets, peas, and eggplant! For the sake of simplicity, I’ll just keep it to canned (8 oz) bamboo shoots for now.
  6. 1 cup chicken broth. 
  7. 2 (14 oz) cans coconut milk – Again, I like Thai Kitchen, because I find some other brands to be too watery. You can also use one can of coconut cream and 1 can milk for a decadent experience. 
  8. Fish sauce to taste – I honestly don’t know how much I use. I give it a few shakes and taste it, then a few more and taste until it’s “right.”
  9. 2 cups fresh bean sprouts, blanched. (Put them in a colander and pour a kettle of boiling water over them. It softens them slightly, and eliminates most of the funk that can accumulate in the bag.)

Instructions:

  1. Stir fry garlic and lemon grass together in a wok or skillet until aromatic. I make this recipe enough to have a Pavlovian response to that smell.
  2. Add chicken pieces and stir fry until just barely done. Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time for doneness.
  3. Add the curry paste and stir fry until the meat is coated evenly and your kitchen smells like heaven.
  4. Add the coconut milk and chicken broth and let come to a boil. I usually add 1 can coconut milk, then the chicken broth and let it cook down a bit before adding the other can. It is a liquid, but should not be too thin. 
  5. Add fish sauce and reduce to a simmer. Put a lid on the pot and let it cook for 10 minutes or so.
  6. Add bamboo shoots at the very end and let them warm through.
  7. Serve over white rice and top with fresh bean sprouts. 

This amount will serve four and still have leftovers. Half it if your cooking for 1 or 2. 

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Diablo Pasta

CuteDevilGirl

I don’t have a picture of this yet, so he’s an adorable devil girl.

This was an experiment in one pot cooking that turned out better than expected and caused a near-riot at or house. Okay, maybe not that exciting, but it turned out better than any of us could have imagined.

It’s got a chili mac vibe, a little bit of heat, and fresh cilantro. What’s not a to love? Let’s class it up and call it Diablo Pasta.

Ingredients for seasoning:

2 Tbsp chili powder

2 Tbsp cumin

3 tsp paprika

3 tsp garlic powder

3 tsp onion powder

The Rest:

2# chicken breast, cut into chunks or ground beef – chicken gives it a bit of an enchilada quality and keeps things a bit healthier, ground beef is good for the taco or chili lover. They’re both good, though.

2 bell peppers, diced small – I like to keep things colorful with one red and one yellow.

2 jalapenos, diced – I only seed and de-rib one, because I love a little heat. You can do whatever you like though.

1 onion, diced small

6 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

4 cups rotini or fusilli – I used macaroni once, and it doesn’t work as well as the larger pastas, so keep that in mind. Cavatappi works well too, and it’s fun!

4 cups chicken stock – If you don’t make your own (and I don’t always), use one of the varieties that comes in a carton. The flavor is vastly superior to canned.

1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce

1 cup shredded Mexican cheese

Chopped cilantro for garnish

Directions:

  1. Combine all the seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with some oil.
  3. For chicken: season chicken chunks with 2 Tbsp seasoning mix and cook in skillet until brown and cooked through. Remove chicken to a plate.
  4. For ground beef: brown and drain the beef, then add back to the skillet with 2 Tbsp of seasoning mix. Make sure it’s thoroughly coated and remove to a plate.
  5. Add vegetables (onions, garlic, peppers) to pan with 2 more Tbsp seasoning mix and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add chicken stock and scrape up anything that has cooked to the bottom of the pot. Let this boil and cook down a bit before adding dry pasta to pot along with 2 more Tbsp seasoning. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Cover and turn to low. Allow to cook 10 minutes, until pasta is al dente.
  7. Add tomato sauce and stir until mixed well. Turn heat off and stir in shredded cheese. Add meat and stir together.
  8. Serve in bowls and top with a dusting of cilantro.

To be honest, I didn’t mix the cheese in the last time I made this because I’m not a big fan of cheese. Instead, I sprinkled it on top of everyone else’s at the end and ate mine without. With and without cheese were both a success!

Serves 4-6, depending on appetites. 

 

Perfect Chicken Breast

nobodycallsmeI’m notorious for overcooking chicken. A lifetime of hearing about the dangers of eating undercooked chicken as left me incapable of cooking it to anything less than a leathery consistency.

This method cooks chicken breast perfectly every single time. There’s no bells or whistles on this method, so the seasoning is up to you. I chop it up and use it in fried rice, or slice into strips and put on top of salad. Seriously, you can do anything you like here. It’s not terribly interesting on its own, however, so I’m not even going to post a picture of it.

You will need:

A large fry pan with a tight-fitting lid

Cooking oil

Thin-sliced or pounded-thin chicken breast.

  1. If your chicken breast isn’t thin-sliced, either butterfly slice it thin,  or place it in a large Ziplock bag and pound it thin.
  2. Heat your fry pan (I like cast iron/enamelware) to medium-high with peanut or vegetable oil before placing your chicken breast in the pan. They should sizzle slightly when they hit the metal. Let them cook on one side for 1 minute, then flip.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium-low and put the lid on. Let the chicken breasts cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off, and let them sit, lid on, for another 10 minutes before serving.

Want to see a picture of them cooking? 

Ha! That was a trick question because you’re suppose to keep the lid on!

When you take the lid off (after 10 minutes of cooking and ten of sitting, not before. Never before!), the result will be perfectly-cooked, juicy chicken breasts. This method works because you’re basically poaching the chicken in it’s own juices.  

 Try it! It’s amazing. It opens up a whole new world of chicken possibilities to you.

Basic Fried Rice

fliedliceFried rice is a nice dish to make because it’s versatile, inexpensive, and usually stretches into another meal or two with leftovers. I like to make a big pan of fried rice so I can have it for lunches during the week, or send it with Mr. B for his work lunches.

The first rule of fried rice is that there are no rules. No wait, is that right? Maybe it’s that you don’t talk about fried rice? No, that’s not it either. Oh yeah, now I remember. The first rule of fried rice is that you do not use fresh rice. Heed my warning before it’s too late. Do whatever else you want with your ingredients, but the true secret to good fried rice to make sure you use day old rice. I make mine the night before, spread it out on a baking sheet, and put it in the refigerator until I’m ready to use it, then right before throwing it in the wok, I use my hands to break up the clumps of rice that have formed until I have a uniform, fluffy consistency. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here is what you’ll need:

Hardware:

  1. A wok. Mine is steel and I seasoned it myself in a tedious, smoky session on my stovetop with vegetable oil and a pastry brush. You can probably use a large fry pan too, but I’ve had the best luck with a wok.
  2. A rice cooker, or pan big enough to accomodate a large amount of rice. I usually go with 4 cups uncooked because I cook for a small army most of the time. If you like rice, though, get a rice cooker. You’ll never look back.
  3. A wooden or silicone utensil that won’t mess up your beautifully seasoned wok.

Ingredients:

  1. Vegetable or peanut oil for stir frying. Basically any oil that can stand up to the high heats required.
  2. Cooked rice. Whatever 4 cups of uncooked will get you. Make sure it’s day old, cold rice.
  3. 1 yellow onion, diced.
  4. 2-3 cloves garlic, smashed.
  5. 3-4 carrots, peeled and diced.
  6. 3-4 eggs, beaten (leave out if trying to make vegetarian or vegan)
  7. 1 cup frozen peas
  8. 1/2 cup of soy sauce
  9. 1/4 cup of chinese rice wine, sherry, dry white wine, or even sake
  10. A few drops of sesame oil (a little goes a long way)
  11. 1/2 tsp fish sauce (seriously, it improves everything!) If you don’t have fish sauce, or don’t want to buy a bottle of fish sauce, it won’t hurt the recipe. If you do a lot of Asian cooking, however, get the fish sauce.
  12. 1/4 cup chicken broth
  13. 1 bunch of scallions, chopped, for garnish
  14. Fresh bean sprouts, for garnish

Chop and prep everything in advance before you start cooking. This dish goes very quickly, and if you get hung up on chopping one thing, you might burn another, so get it ready first. Chop veggies, beat eggs, and combine soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, fish sauce, and chicken broth in a bowl. Have it ready!

Heat wok on medium high heat until hot and add vegetable oil by drizzling down the side. Swirl to coat the bottom evenly and turn the heat down to medium.

Few things look as awful as a seasoned, well-loved wok

First, before anything else, scramble the eggs in the wok and remove to a plate. Add a little more oil, then add the onions and garlic, stirring constantly so they don’t burn. Cook until they’re soft and fragrant, then throw in the carrots and stir fry until warm and softer. Don’t cook them until they’re mush, make sure they still have a little crunch left in them. Remove onions, garlic, and carrots from wok and set aside. I usually just dump them in a tupperware container temporariliy. Remember too, you can use any vegetables you like in this dish. Carrots and peas are just what I use.

Add a Tablespoon or so of vegetable/peanut oil and swirl again. This time add the rice and start stir frying again. Try not to let it get smashed and burned to the bottom of the wok. I had this happen recently, and it was devastating. Just keep things gentle and easy with your stir frying. When the rice is nearly done, add the vegetables back into the mix. 

Add the sauce mixture and stir gently until cooked and warmed through. At the VERY end, dump in the frozen peas and stir them in. Since they’re already cooked, you just need to thaw them.

This dish is versatile in that you can add almost any meat. I usually cook chicken breasts separately, then chop them into cubes and mix the meat into the fried rice. You can also do this with beef, pork, shrimp, turkey, duck, whatever you like! Here is my method for cooking perfect chicken breast if you’re interested.

Serve in shallow bowls and top with fresh, chopped scallions, fresh bean sprouts, soy sauce, and lots (and lots) of sriracha.