Oof. Yesterday was a day. The kind of day that started out of the gates with a bang and continued as such until I finally sat down at 7:30. The kind where every item checked off the to-do list was replaced by two more. The kind where an afternoon stroll ended in a sprint back home through a thunderstorm. But, the kind also that justified chocolate chip cookies and some Simon & Garfunkel.
However, today is a new day.
Today also happens to be the first meeting of my culinary book club! Remember a few weeks ago I told you about the Chicago bookstore that sells only cookbooks? Well, once a month the moderator (is that the right word?) picks a book (well, we voted) and everyone makes a dish from the book.
You want to come, don’t you?
First up- Marcus Off Duty by Marcus Samuelsson. I’d first heard of Marcus and his story way back when on Top Chef and was excited by the book choice and at the prospect of increasing my bank of Swedish recipes. I was a little disappointed to see so few, but buoyed by all the other options. Like this one, which is Caribbean inspired.
And it just so happens that I set my culinary sails for the Caribbean this week.
Yes, this will do just fine.
I’m not sure exactly what path I’m going to take with the Caribbean. I didn’t really like how I covered the Pacific Islands and may go for a more general overview rather than a country by country approach.
We’ll see how we go.
However, to sum it up, the cuisine of the Caribbean tends to be a melange of…well, everything. African. European. East Indian. Arab. Chinese. All tweaked and spiced with a unique regional attitude, depending on where you land.
This dish, according to Marcus, borrows Trinidadian inspiration, with a few flairs of fancy. Marcus ad libbed a bit from tradition and while I’m prone to do the same, I stuck to the letter of the law on this one given the fact that I made it for book club. Except the raisins. I just couldn’t do it. However, I had ideas, so I’m going to add them in here as optional. I strongly encourage them..I think they’ll add some color and texture.
The whole shebang cooked rather quickly, and reminded me of my favorite Thai curry. Good stuff, Marcus.
Serve with a starch of choice. I used sticky rice because I STILL have stores from all that Asian cooking I did last year.
- 2 TB vegetable oil
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 1 red or orange pepper, deseeded and sliced (optional)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1” piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- salt and pepper
- Grill seasoning (optional)
- 1 TB red curry paste (more, if you want more heat)
- 4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (use thighs!)
- 1 lime, juiced and zested
- 1 (15-oz) can light coconut milk
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 fresh mint leaves (or more, if you like)
- 1 TB fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 TB toasted, unsweetened coconut flakes
- Slivered almonds, to garnish (optional)
- Rice or noodles, to serve
- Put the oil in a large skillet and turn the heat to medium high. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion, garlic ginger and red pepper, if you’re adding it. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add half the curry paste and cook another minute.
- Meanwhile, season the chicken with grill seasoning (if using), salt, pepper, the remaining curry paste and lime zest. Move the onion to one side in the skillet and add the chicken in one layer. Return to medium high heat and cook the chicken on about 3 minutes per side.
- Reduce the heat to medium low and add the coconut milk and water. Add the lime juice and cook, turning the chicken once, until the sauce is slightly thickened and the chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Fold in the herbs and adjust the seasonings to taste.
- Serve atop rice or noodles, garnish with the coconut, almonds and more lime/herbs to taste.
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