More Thoughts on Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal
Happy Fourth of July!

Broken Oven Chicken Curry

There’s nothing like a broken oven to teach you a new dish. Last Friday, our otherwise trusty and fancy-seaming Jenn-Air oven became very balky and wasn’t heating up properly (I wonder how long these appliances are supposed to last; this one was put in by the previous owners of our apartment, presumably with an eye on helping to sell the place, about five years ago—should I be expecting it fail so soon?), and I had a whole chicken in the fridge that needed to be cooked.

I was planning to make the red-pepper and arugula chicken salad, but without an oven, that was out of the question. I figured I could cut the bird up and make some kind of one-pot chicken dish, maybe a variation on a coq au vin without the mushrooms (which Nina can’t tolerate these days, though she used to love them). I had some Andouille sausage kicking around the freezer, and figured that and some wine and some thyme would get me halfway to a decent dinner.

For further inspiration and reference, I flipped open Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything.” It had a recipe for Chicken with Indian Spices and Yogurt that sounded about right—meaning I had most of the ingredients in my fridge and I could make it on the stovetop.

I also had on hand a bit of fresh basil, and it made me think of a Thai coconut curry dish that I love, so I swapped Bittman’s suggested yogurt for coconut milk. I thinned it a bit with chicken stock because the coconut-milk label freaked me out. It’s not very healthy, that stuff. But it’s delicious, so I poured that into the dish in place of the yogurt.

I made the recipe with an eye on getting my girls to eat it, but they balked at the sauce and ended up eating nothing but the side dishes for dinner. They were green beans and rice, so they survived, and I had the leftovers for lunch all week long.

Broken-Oven Stovetop Coconut Chicken Curry

  • Olive oil or canola oil
  • 1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces (I pull the skin off the legs, breast, and thigh, too).
  • Flour for dredging 
  • 1 large onions, diced 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger, or more
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 can coconut milk (about 13 oz)
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  • Fresh basil for garnish
  • Green beans, too.

Take the chicken pieces and dredge them in flour one by one. In a large Dutch oven, heat some of the olive or vegetable oil and fry the chicken until brown. Do in batches if necessary. Don’t crowd the pan.

After the chicken is browned, remove from the pan and set aside. Check the amount of oil in the pan. If, like me, you have removed the skin from the chicken, you may need to add some oil. If you have left the skin on, you may need to drain a bit.

Sauté the onion in the Dutch oven until soft. Add the garlic, ginger, and spices, along with some freshly ground black pepper. Cook with the onions, stirring, until very aromatic, two or three minutes 

Add the coconut milk and the chicken stock.

Return the chicken to the pan.

Cover and cook over medium-low heat so that the mixture doesn’t boil, turning the pieces every few minutes, until the chicken is cooked through, about fifteen to twenty minutes. If you want to measure things, the chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer reads 165 in the thickest part of the thigh.

Garnish with fresh basil and serve with green beans in the bowl.

Notes: If I had not been making this in the hopes that my children would eat it, I would have done a few things differently. I would trim some green beans and stir them in the last few minutes. Also, I might add some cashews, and I would make it a bit spicier. Play around with it.  The recipe is pretty bulletproof.

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