I sincerely apologize for the lack of posts recently, but I’ve been a bit preoccupied and just cooking lame, boring, fast dinners that were absolutely not at all worthy of a blog post. After five years and countless hours, I’ve completed writing the first draft of my Ph. D. dissertation. I set a deadline for myself (last Friday afternoon by 5 PM), and I made it with about 10 minutes to spare. It was a wonderful feeling, and I’ve spent a leisurely weekend celebrating all the hard work I’ve put in over the past few weeks…and years too, I guess. Anyway, I’ve truly missed cooking and writing the blog, so I’m happy to be back and ready to share one of my absolute favorite recipes with you.
This is a real throwback – all the way back to the early days of our relationship and the original point at which we both became obsessed with cooking. As I’ve mentioned before, we spent a fabulous summer together with no classes and nothing better to do than watch food porn and whip up whatever looked interesting. This dish was the first, yes, the first thing that Frank and I ever cooked together during that summer. We caught this on some long-lost Food Network show with an unremarkable chef, and I can’t even find the original recipe online anymore. All I have to remind me of the ingredients is a tattered note card stuck into the “poultry” section of my favorite recipe box. This dish is amazing – you will absolutely fall in love with the flavors, the ease of the recipe, the aroma that fills your kitchen, all of it. We’ve made this dish more than any others over the years, and it continually amazes us how delicious it is each and every time. The ingredient that really makes this dish shine is the Scotch Bonnet peppers. Before seeing this recipe on TV, I’d never heard of such a thing, but we were actually able to find the real deal at the grocery store the first time we went shopping for them. I find them harder and harder to come by, but most grocery stores seem to carry the Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce in the ethnic food section. It has a bit less heat than the fresh peppers, but it’s delicious and something great to have on hand in your pantry. The combination of that kick in the back of your throat from the peppers, the creaminess of the coconut milk, and that bright freshness from the cilantro is an intoxicating combination. Enjoy!
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~2 lbs. total weight), diced [800 calories]
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 sprig fresh thyme, or 1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated (yields about 2 teaspoons)
1 ½ tablespoons canola oil [180 calories]
¾ cup coconut milk [280 calories]
2 tablespoons heavy cream [100 calories]
1 teaspoon Scotch Bonnet peppers, seeds removed and thinly sliced, or 2 tablespoons Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce [30 calories]
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
* Beware – Do not, I repeat do NOT, touch the seeds of the peppers and then touch anything on your face without thoroughly washing your hands first. Honestly, the spicy remnants of the peppers have lasted on my hands for days. A neat trick I learned from the one and only Julia Child that helps to remove onion or garlic scents, or spices, from your hands: wash with hot water, rub your hands with Kosher salt, then rinse in cold water. *
Calories per serving: 235
In a large, nonreactive bowl, toss the diced chicken with the salt and pepper. Add the diced onion, garlic, ginger, thyme, and the Scotch Bonnet peppers, then mix well to combine fully. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
Add the coconut milk and heavy cream, then stir will to combine. Lower the heat to medium or medium-low, and let simmer for 8 minutes. Mix in the cilantro, then taste and adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper, or more Scotch Bonnets if you’d like a spicier dish.
This is best served over rice, but you could just as easily toss it with pasta. The sauce is thick and hearty – perfect to slather over the carb of your choice.
This was originally on a random Food Network TV show years and years ago…I can’t remember the chef and I also can’t find the original online anywhere. You’ll have to take my word for it on this one!