The best-laid plans…
Lately I’ve come to discover that I’m inspired to blog at the wrong times. I have about 3 or 4 posts in draft form, some with photos, and some just with recipes.
I have some that seem like they would be ready for prime time – until I try to write something about them. Then, I have times when I can’t be bothered to take the camera out for something I’m just whipping up quickly. Of course, lately that means as soon as I take my first bite, I realize I should have been ready to blog about it.
Like in this case. For now, all I have are photos snapped quickly on my iPhone, too hungry to bother getting a photo this time.
But this is the kind of meal I should have had my camera ready for – inspired by a recipe that was inspired by another recipe, and similar to many meals before it.
It also tastes a bit decadent, which, maybe it is, but it has coconut milk … and coconut milk is good for you. And tasty. And dairy-free. And creamy. And usually pretty cheap.
While I can’t say it’s Thai food, I can definitely say that it has Thai-inspired vegetables and flavors, plus some other fun ingredients that don’t sound like they’ll work, but they do. The creamy coconutty chicken sauce, the soft and meaty shiitake mushrooms and the sweet and colorful red peppers all hang out together in harmony.
PS: My Kitchen Counter has an instagram account now! Check me out @mykitchencounter.
Note: If you’re hard-up for star anise, you can skip it, but even for a liquorice-hater like me, it added a nice dimension that I wouldn’t miss out on.
On the Counter
Serves: 2-3 hungry people
4-6 chicken pieces: thighs, drumsticks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
1 tablespoon olive oil (double if not using butter)
1 16 oz (400 mL) can coconut milk
1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
2 whole pods star anise
10 roughly chopped cilantro (coriander) stems
1 lime, half juiced, and half in wedges
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 inch (2.5 cm) ginger, peeled and finely chopped
100 g (1 cup) fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 red pepper (about 100 g), thinly sliced
1-2 bird’s eye chilies, chopped
1 scallion (spring onion), thinly chopped
Chopped cilantro (coriander leaves), to garnish
White jasmine rice or steamed broccolini (tender stem broccoli)
What to Do
Pat the chicken dry and season both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside and prepare the remaining ingredients.
Preheat the oven to 375° F (190° C).
In a large Dutch oven or casserole, add the oil and melt the butter. Once the fat is hot (test by sprinkling water onto the oil, if it pops out, it’s hot enough.)
Put in the chicken pieces, skin side up, and brown for 4-5 minutes, moving them occasionally in case they stick. Turn them over and brown on the other side for another 4-5 minutes.
Lower the heat and add the coconut milk first, then the cinnamon, star anise, cilantro stems, lime juice and garlic.
Bake in the oven, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Add in mushrooms and both pepper varieties and spoon the sauce over the chicken.
Cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until the middle of a piece of chicken is at least 165° F (74° C). Check every 10 minutes to ensure chicken pieces are not drying out. Spoon sauce over if needed.
Before serving, remember to remove the star anise pods and cinnamon stick.
Serve (over rice, if using rice) with sauce and vegetables on top. Garnish with chopped scallions (spring onions) and cilantro (coriander leaves), and with lime wedges on the side.