Coconut Chicken Curry

Red flags are to relationships as _________ are to _________. Fill in the blank.

I’m experiencing much of the same consternation facing this analogy as I did with the sheet of twenty or so that I was expected to answer in a ridiculously short period of time throughout the third grade.

Let’s try a different tack. What do you call the opposite of a red flag?

A green flag? Somehow I think that’s going to end up circled in red ink and labeled with a bold -1.

Let’s just be grateful we’re done being graded [on a sliding scale from A to F, anyway], and give ourselves a pat on the back for bringing home a boy who effortlessly outshines every report card we’ve ever brought home. And yes, this includes the ones that declared us fridge-worthy and scored us a few weeknight trips to Dairy Freeze.

So how has my Frenchman passed with such flying colors in my parents’ book? It might have something to do with the hours he’s spent in my mom’s garden, or the countless trips down to the barn he’s made to help my dad flip boats, but I think he officially made the grade last night.

It all started with a Dutch oven…as [I’m beginning to believe] nearly all good things do [think Lamb Tagine, Healthy Beef Chili, and Spicy Beef & Bell Pepper]. He offered to make my parents dinner after breakfast, and disappeared into the kitchen while I wrote the morning away. Curiosity got the best of me when he went to shower, and I stole a quick peek under the lid. “Hmmm,” I thought. “Looks like a tomato stew.”

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Feeling rather sneaky, I let my hand gravitate towards the sauce-covered spoon stationed by the stove. “Decidedly not tomato-y!” my taste buds sung, and I savored the trademark sweetness that only coconut can bring to a savory dish. Needless to say, my mom and dad loved it…particularly atop the creamy Arborio rice he studiously stirred into submission just before serving.

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Then he got all sorts of bonus points the following day, when he surprised me with a meticulously plated serving that he’d set aside just for me [complete with a to-the-gram calorie breakdown so I’d know I’d still be well within my macros]. He even tracked down a mold for the risotto and my favorite heart plate, as if the stew wouldn’t be sufficiently melt-worthy on its own.

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Unfortunately I can’t share my method for landing such a boyfriend, since I’m still not altogether certain how I managed to do it myself. I can, however, leave you with the recipe for his [Make-Everybody-Fall-In-Love-With-You] Coconut Chicken Curry…which he quietly typed up for me and e-mailed me with two of the sweetest words in the French language: Je t’aime.

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If you end up eating this alone, please, please, please don’t resist the overwhelming urge to lick your plate clean. With your tongue. You’ll see; a spoon just doesn’t cut it, and something this good cannot be saved for the dishwasher. I would’ve done it myself, but it’s a little early in the game for public plate-licking.

Recipe [Serves 10]:

Ingredients [Using a mindboggling mélange of American and European measurements, as is our custom]:

850 g boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into cubes [approximately 4 of the colossal variety]

290 g raw sweet potato, peeled and diced [about 1 medium]

385 g carrots, peeled and diced [about 4]

45 g celery stick, diced [about 1]

415 g sweet Vidalia onions, peeled and diced [about 2]

1 red bell pepper, julienned

1 orange bell pepper, julienned

400 g cream of coconut [15 oz can]

150 g shredded sweetened coconut

Coconut oil [enough to coat the Dutch oven]

1 cup tomato sauce

10 tbsp tomato paste

Spices to taste [turmeric, curry powder, salt, black pepper]

Method:

Prepare the sweet potato, the carrots, and the celery as written above [don’t skip peeling the potatoes and the carrots – their skins will turn an unappetizing shade of brown later on!].

Over medium heat, melt the coconut oil in the Dutch oven.

Add the diced vegetables and cook for 15 minutes.

In the meantime, prep the onions and the chicken.

Add only the onions to the Dutch oven, along with 2 tbsp of water to deglaze if necessary.

Let the onions soften for 5-10 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add chicken.

Allow the chicken to cook for 5-10 minutes, or until browned [add small amounts of water to prevent the chicken from sticking if necessary].

Reduce the heat to medium.

Prepare the bell peppers and add them to the stew.

Add the coconut cream and allow it to melt.

In a small bowl, mix together the tomato paste and tomato sauce.

Add turmeric, curry powder, salt, black pepper to taste, keeping in mind that the coconut cream will sweeten the final product considerably.

Add seasoned tomato mixture to the Dutch oven.

Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for at least 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with risotto.

[1 serving, without risotto = 375 calories, 24 g protein, 49g carbs, and 10g fat]

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