Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Am Not a Crockpot: Thai Curry Chicken

Mom and I went out for Thai food a couple of weeks ago. It was tasty, as usual, but now that we are in Dearborn Heights it is a bit of a hike to the East Dearborn Thai Palace. There are other Thai restaurants closer (Thai Palace II is within walking distance -- a long walk, but walking distance), but there's just something missing at those establishments. I decided I wanted to try making Thai food at home.

I did try this once in Syracuse with mixed results. The flavor wasn't quite there and there was no spice to the dish. Also, cooking it on the stove was more of a mess than I wanted to deal with. So I looked up crock pot recipes online to see if Thai would work.

Here is the recipe I found:

- 1 13.5-oz can coconut milk

- 1 T brown sugar

- 1 T soy sauce (La Choy is gluten free, and so is Tamari wheat-free)[I went with Meijer brand]

- 1 T Thai red or green chili paste, or more to taste (I used red, and went with 1.5 T)
**I went with red curry paste. Part of this was by accident, but I also didn't want to make anything too spicy the first time out. The flavor is robust, but seriously, make sure you get chili paste.

- 1 t fish sauce (optional) [I declined the option]

- 1 yellow onion, chopped

- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

- 1 red bell pepper

- 1 green bell pepper

- 1/2 large eggplant

- 1 sweet potato

- chicken thighs (I used 5 frozen boneless, skinless) [I used chicken breasts, thighs weren't readily available when I was shopping. Either should be fine.]

And! 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated. [Optional. I didn't feel like dealing with ginger so I passed.]

**I also added some thinly sliced carrots to the mix.

The Directions.

Combine the sauce ingredients: coconut milk, soy sauce, brown sugar, chili paste, and fish sauce in the bottom of your crockpot stoneware. Taste. If you think you need more chili paste, add some, carefully. It's hot stuff!

Add the chicken pieces to the sauce, flipping them over a few times so they get nice and saucy.

Wash and cut the vegetables, and add to the crock.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-6. This is done when the chicken is fully cooked and the vegetables have reached desired tenderness.

I cooked ours on high for 5 hours. The vegetables were soft, but not squishy, and the chicken was cooked, but still had shape.

Serve over white rice.


If you think that's a lot of veggies, it is. I actually forgot to add the onion and garlic when I first turned on the crock pot because the bowl was 3/4 of the way full.

TCC Closeup

I let mine cook on high for about 6 hours -- that was a mistake. The veggies lost their crispness and there was very little texture to the dish. When I make this again, I will either cook on low for 6 hours or high for no more than 4. Just remember: Crock Pots vary.

Also, instead of white rice I went with brown rice. I think this comes down to a preference issue, but I almost always choose brown over white rice unless there's a time constraint.

Here is how the dish looked:

TCC Dish

Not quite as fancy as the pictures in the linked recipe, but the color is quite striking.

After a couple of servings, I found the lack of texture from the overcooking to be disappointing. The flavors were still strong, so I decided to take the leftovers and turn it into a soup.

TCC Soup

While blending (using the Ninja -- a must-have for the kitchen), I added 1 cup of water per pitcher (there are A LOT of leftovers). It maintains the flavor and gives the meal a hearty texture. I would recommend adding some black pepper when you warm up a bowl. I did not blend the rice with the soup, but sprinkling in any leftover rice would likely add to the tastiness.

Overall, I think this is a tasty dish. You just need to keep an eye on the crock.

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