This savory meal is based on a beautiful recipe is from Bon Appetit. And yes, everything’s better with coconut milk!
Similar to a rendang, the aromatics in this dish gradually brown in the pan, giving it a distinctive flavor and texture.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 stalks, lemongrass
- 1 shallot, chopped (onion just does not give it the right flavor)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2” piece of ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
- 1t crushed red pepper flakes
- 1t ground turmeric (be careful with this, as it stains most things yellow)
- 1T vegetable oil
- 8 deboned chicken thighs (skin can be left on, but unboned chicken is a PIA to eat)
- kosher salt, ground pepper
- 4 kaffir lime leaves (these are optional, but add a nice flavor. Get at your local Asian grocery store
- 3” cinnamon stick
- 4 cracked cardamom pods
- 2 cracked star anise pods
- 1 15-oz unsweetened coconut milk—everything’s better with coconut milk!
- 1t light brown sugar
- ¼ cup unsweetened shredded or ground coconut
- cilantro, chopped (for garnish)
Here’s what to do:
- remove outer layers from lemongrass, remove and reserve a couple of inches of trimmed lemongrass bruise (with a knife handle), tie each into a knot.
- put reserved lemongrass, shallot, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, turmeric and 2T of water in small food processor and make a paste out of the added ingredients.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper and heat oil in a large skillet (I use cast iron) and cook skin side down (if it has skin) for about 10 minutes, until skin is crispy. Set aside in a plate.
- cook the spice paste in the same skillet until it begins releasing its aroma—about 5 minutes.
- add the lime leaves (if using), cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, coconut milk, sugar and knotted lemongrass.
- Bring to a simmer, add chicken and cook, turning the chicken once every so often until it is falling-apart tender. This will take between an hour and 1.5 hours.
- Carefully toast the shredded coconut in a dry skillet (I use nonstick for this) until it begins turning golden, then cool.
- At this time you’re ready to serve: arrange chicken on a plate or platter and spoon any remaining coconut milk/spice liquid over the top. Add the cilantro and toasted coconut and serve.