Sunday, April 25, 2010

Spiced Chicken with Coconut Cream

A year or two ago I discovered that bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts are so much better than boneless, skinless chicken breasts.  The discovery came after watching the Barefoot Contessa roast some chicken breasts on Food Network and deciding to try it out for myself.  Who knew that the bones and skin (even if you end up picking most of it off like I do) could make such a difference?  One of my favorite things about roasting bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts is how easy and versatile it is.  All you have to do is rub your chicken breast with evoo, s&p and whatever fresh herbs or spices you desire and you will have a wonderful dinner entree.  You can stick to the basics, or you can get really creative.  It's all up to you.  This recipe falls under the heading of really creative.  It's actually a recipe that I heavily modified from Street Food: Exploring the World's Most Authentic Tastes by Tom Kime.  The recipe was written for use with poussins (baby chickens), or whole roasted chicken at the very least.  But since I almost always have bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts in the freezer, and rarely ever have poussins or whole chickens, I decided to play with the recipe a bit to make it work for me.  The chicken here is also meant to be grilled.  Since I live in an apartment in NYC that's clearly not happening, but I can make it work.  After all, that is one of the things that amuses me most about cooking - it gives me the ability to take one thing and adapt it to suit my tastes.  I love being able to do that.

This chicken was moist, but it wasn't as flavorful as I had predicted given the ingredients in the spice paste/marinade and the basting liquid.  However, the juices and leftover paste on the chicken was wonderful when mixed with the coconut rice I served with the chicken.  I had originally made the coconut rice to serve with the champagne mangoes I bought at Whole Foods (which I did still serve for dessert), but I discovered that the rice was equally delicious with the chicken.  Perhaps in the future I will add more salt to the marinade/spice paste.  Another problem was that the skin on the chicken didn't crisp up at all.  So I've got some work to do on perfecting this recipe, but have faith - I will get there eventually.

Recipe after the jump!

Spiced Chicken with Coconut Cream
Adapted from Street Food: Exploring the World's Most Authentic Tastes
By Tom Kime

4 dried Thai chilis, soaked in hot water to soften
3 shallots, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 tsp salt
1-2 tsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp dried lemongrass (or 1 fresh lemongrass, outer leaves peeled, pounded with the back of a knife and roughly chopped)
2 bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
juice of 1 lime

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Drain chilis when soft, and combine with shallots, garlic, ginger and salt in a food processor.  Add enough vegetable oil in a slow stream to form a paste.  Rub the chicken breasts with half of the spice mixture/paste.  Cover chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.  Roughly 30 minutes before cooking, remove chicken from the refrigerator to allow it to come to room temperature.

Add lemongrass, remaining spice mixture, coconut milk, sugar, and salt to a pan.  Bring mixture to a simmer and simmer until reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Place chicken breasts skin side down in a cast-iron skillet.  Roast chicken in the oven skin side down for 15 minutes, then turn chicken over using tongs.  Baste the chicken with the coconut mixture.  Roast until the skin is nicely browned and the juices run clear, about 25 additional minutes, basting the chicken with the coconut mixture about every 5-10 minutes.  Remove from oven and baste with coconut mixture.  

Before serving, pour juices from cast iron skillet over the chicken and squeeze the lime juice over the top.  Serve with coconut rice.

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