How is it August, when I feel like my summer reading list has just barely taken off? Right now I’m knee deep in David Sedaris’ Calypso, which provokes belly laughs on airplanes. So much of the way he describes his family resonates with me. His dad who just walks away mid-sentence, or his sisters who buy hideous clothes together as a joke. This is my family. Nostalgia is a big reason I love cooking. Consider the frozen pea, which always reminds me of the vegetable forced on me through my Annie’s Organic Mac and Cheese. When I think about wild rice, I can’t help but remember my childhood favorite: Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice with Rotisserie Chicken.
My dad will tell you to this day “She’s always been a good eater,” as if I’m still five. It doesn’t bother me, though, because it’s so true. I have loved food since day one. I have only loved certain foods since day one, but eating was always celebratory to me. There was a certain ceremony to my mother’s Creamy Tomato Soup and grilled cheese or what we lovingly referred to as “Stinky Grey Chicken,” whose name doesn’t do it justice.
Isn’t chicken and rice the most nostalgic of foods? Every house has their own version of it, whether it’s Arroz Con Pollo or maybe a cream soup version topped with ritz crackers. My version is curried, because I try to turn everything into a curry. But it has the same creamy texture of risotto and the lovely tender chicken that I love. Let’s get started on this recipe.
First, as always, I start by sauteeing the vegetables. Add a couple tablespoons of olive oil to your dutch oven or deep pot over medium high heat. Then add your diced onions, peppers, and cilantro stems, stirring and cooking until the onions are translucent. Then add your ginger, curry powder, cumin, salt, red pepper flakes, and tomato paste, stirring and letting it open up the spices. Add your chicken and coat it in all the good stuff, letting it cook for about four minutes.
Next, pour in your rice, tomatoes, broth, and coconut milk, and stir it all together, bringing it to a nice boil. Once the pot is boiling, turn it down to a simmer and cover with the lid, cooking it on low for twenty minutes. I like to give it a stir halfway through so the rice doesn’t stick.
Pour in the peas, and stir them in. Then cover and let it sit off the heat for ten minutes before serving. Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro leaves and serve.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 1 bunch cilantro, stems diced, leaves chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1½ lb boneless skinless chicken thighs, cubed into 1 inch pieces
- 13 oz can full fat coconut milk, shaken
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 15 oz can petite diced tomatoes
- 1½ cups long grain white rice
- 1 cup frozen peas
- In a large dutch oven or pot with a lid, add 2 tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Once hot, add the onion, cilantro stems only, red bell pepper and cook for 7 minutes or until the onion becomes translucent.
- Add the ginger and curry powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, and salt, and cook for thirty seconds. Add the tomato paste, breaking up with your wooden spoon to incorporate into the spices. Then add the chicken, tossing to coat. Keep cooking the chicken and stirring for 3 minutes more.
- Add the coconut milk, broth, tomatoes, and rice, stirring. Bring to a boil and once boiling, turn the heat down to a low simmer. Cover the pot and cook on low for 20 minutes, until rice is cooked through. Give it a stir halfway through the 20 minutes and re-cover. Then remove the pot from heat, add the peas, and stir. Let the pot sit off the heat for 10 minutes more, covered, to absorb the remaining liquid. Stir in the cilantro leaves and serve immediately.