I love one pot dinners. I especially love one pot dinners that don’t take long, where you just fire everything into it and it’s ready as soon as you are finished adding the last ingredient. Most of our winter dinners are one pot wonders: stews, braises, casseroles, goulash and our favourite, curries. Although we eat curries all year around, a fresh fragrant spring alternative to the more wintery madras or tikka is a Thai green curry. Thankfully the girls love curry, although the kitchen looks like a bomb hit a paddy field after dinner if we have rice. It’s worth it though. My daughter Elly is lactose intolerant and these curries are great because they use coconut milk and are dairy free.
Like any dish, a good curry needs good ingredients. I almost always use chicken thighs and drumsticks for any chicken dish that is made in a pot with sauce. Curry is no exception. Always try and buy the best chicken you can. A proper pasture-reared chicken (like The Friendly Farmer’s from Athenry) will always go much further than a conventional chicken of the same weight. This is what I’ve found when cooking at home. The meat is denser in a free-range chicken and there is nothing but delicious cooking juices in the bottom of your roasting tin instead of that volume of suspicious looking clear liquid that you get with some conventional chickens. Of course, if you prefer chicken breast substitute these for the thighs.
Consider buying a whole chicken at your local butcher and getting them to take off the breasts for you and boning the thighs and drumsticks for a dish like chicken curry or a casserole. You can also add the carcase to the pot when making your casserole for stock and remove it at the end. To make the curry itself, I would steer clear of ready-made curry sauces. They are mostly disappointing. The only exception to this I find are Green Saffron ready-made sauces from Cork which include in the range a Korma that is really wonderful. What we generally use for Thai curries are good quality pastes. One good brand is Mae Ploy that’s available in most supermarkets.
The following recipe is for a curry that serves 4 and takes 15 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook. Not bad on a busy week night and the rice will be cooked in the 30 minutes. Perfect timing!
What you need:
- 4 chicken thighs (or 4 chicken fillets)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons Thai curry paste
- 1 x 400ml tin of coconut milk
- 1 x 225g tin of bamboo shoots
- 100g frozen peas
- 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
- A few leave of fresh Thai sweet basil (or regular basil)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
What to do:
- Remove the meat from the chicken thighs and cut into thin strips (or even better, get your butcher to do it for you!)
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Add the curry paste and stir over a hot heat for one minute.
- Gradually add the coconut milk to the paste. It is important to do this slowly so that the paste and the coconut milk don’t separate. Then add the chicken strips to the saucepan.
- Drain the bamboo shoots and add to the pan followed by the frozen peas. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the fish sauce, taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.
- Sprinkle the curry with sweet basil and serve with rice.
(This article was published in The Western People on 11th May 2015)