Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Thai - rrific: Nigel Slater's Coconut chilli (or chili) chicken

I know the premise of this blog is that I am a mum and that I try to create dishes to broaden the food horizons of my bubs, who, given the choice would happily live on chips, pasta, frubes and jaffa cakes. But sometimes, just sometimes, I crave something that is Lola and Finn 'unfriendly', and when that is the case, out comes the pasta, a tomato sauce is whipped up, some garlic bread may be added, and they are good to go. Meantime I set to work.
I do like a curry and so does Phill. And whilst I adore Indian food, lately I have enjoyed food with more of a Thai influence, which led me to cooking up this wonderful recipe from Nigel Slater, which is really so easy. You can take on the takeaway with this one; simple and quick to make (as long as you have a whizzy chopper) and smells divine. The smell when the spice mix hits the hot frying pan is heady and exotic. The other joy is that once the chicken is in, you let it blip away for 20 minutes or so whilst you open the Riesling and stack the dishwasher (if you're me, that is).
A note on my tweaking of the recipe. We like sauce and so I decided to use five chicken thighs instead of the recommended eight. There was a lot of sauce but that was fine by us. Obviously if you are sauce averse, alter the sauce ingredients dependant on how much chicken you are using.
I served this with simple boiled rice; an excellent foil for the punchy, spicy sauce. And it is a little punchy, in a nice way. It kind of starts off with a coconutty, creamy caress before the spicy slap of chilli. Not a bad thing.

Coconut chilli chicken, adapted from Nigel Slater's Simple Cooking

3 plump stalks lemongrass
50g/2oz fresh ginger
2 hot red chillies
2 cloves garlic
a bunch coriander
2 limes
2 tbsp groundnut oil
200g/7oz tomatoes (I used tinned)
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
8 chicken thighs (I used 5 boneless, skinless ones)
400ml/14oz can coconut milk
8 apricots, halved (but I left them out)


Peel and discard the outer leaves of the lemongrass as they can
sometimes be tough. Cut the inner leaves into short lengths and put
in the food processor.

Peel the ginger, then slice into thin pieces and add to the lemongrass. Chop the chillies, discarding their stems and add to the ginger with the peeled garlic. To reduce the heat a little you could totally deseed the chillies and take out all of the white membrane.
Roughly chop the stems and half of the leaves of the coriander to add to the food processor,
reserving the rest for later.

Grate the lime zest into the food processor, reserving the limes for later, then turn the machine on and let it chop everything to a coarse paste. Add a little groundnut oil and scrape the sides down with a spatula if it sticks. Add the fish sauce, soy sauce and the tomatoes
and process for a few seconds longer until all the ingredients appear amalgamated.

Warm a further tablespoon of groundnut oil in a deep pan over a moderate to high heat and use it to brown the chicken pieces, turning them so they colour nicely on both sides. Lift the chicken pieces out and pour away anything more than a tablespoon of oil and juices.

Add the spice paste and let it fry over a moderate heat for two minutes till fragrant, stirring almost constantly, then return the chicken to the pan. Pour over the coconut milk, stir, cover and leave to simmer over a low heat for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile halve and stone the apricots (if using) and leave them to one side.

Test the chicken for doneness making certain it’s cooked right the way through, then add the apricots, if using. Leave to simmer for a few minutes, then add the juice of the limes and the reserved coriander leaves.

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