First of all, I’d never heard of a casserole you made on the stove top. I thought the final destination of all casserole cooking was the oven. Tis the season for oven cooking after all, but I was pretty stoked to see that this chicken dish cooks in a big Dutch oven-style pot right on top of the stove this time. The second thing I was excited about were the Thai flavors. I love Thai food, especially some of their curries and this recipe looked like a good, easy way to enjoy them.
I have a pretty low tolerance for spicy food. My taste buds seem to be a ton more sensitive than most people when it comes to the stuff. If someone tells me whatever dish we’re eating is barely spicy,I know it’s probably going to set me on fire. That’s why we went with the low amount of the red curry called for int he recipe…but shock me shock me – it wasn’t spicy to me! So here’s your first tip, definitely add the red curry paste to taste. I made this a second time already and we doubled the curry paste that time.
The other thing we did differently was to throw out the light coconut milk you see pictured. I’ve never used the light version, but when I cracked the can open, it was practically water it was so thin and clear. We had some regular coconut milk and used that instead. It worked wonderfully but now I do want to try the light version to see if it’s as good and to save on calories.
Jasmine rice was called for and I almost just used plain long grain rice because the two look exactly the same. But we went for the jasmine this time and it was…well, it was rice! Woohoo. I think you could get away with using the regular long grain if you have that on hand. The veggies, which add great flavor and texture despite how little they actually cook, are added in the last ten or so minutes.
All your chicken pieces get seared and browned first. The recipe calls for whole chicken legs, which you might not realize is also what’s called the leg quarter, and is made up of both the thigh and leg still attached. We just went for separate thigh and leg pieces and removed the skins. After bringing all the liquid to a boil, just add in the rice, stir and settle the browned chicken into the pot.
After making this twice now, the recipe seems to have a little too much liquid in it, at least according to the picture on the Martha Stewart site. Either that or it’s supposed to be a tad saucy, as regular Thai curry dishes usually are. The second time I made this I added a little more rice, another 1/4 to 1/2 a cup and there was still a lot of liquid in the pot. But I think it was the right amount of rice at least.
Despite some unusual results with this recipe, it’s really easy for a weeknight, busy work week meal. And it is really tasty if you’re into Thai food and are looking for an easy way to enjoy Thai flavors at home. It does thicken a little more as it sits, and the curry and coconut milk infuse this dish with more flavor than one might expect. It makes a lot, too, so it’s great for a family meal or if you’re wanting leftovers to last you another day or so. The rice does get very tender, so beware if you’re more a fan of firmer rice. Garnish it with cilantro, fresh basil or thin-sliced green onions for last minute added flavor and squeeze a lemon or lime over it, too for extra kick. This is definitely a new, easy chicken favorite at my house.
Spicy Coconut Chicken Casserole
adapted slightly from Everyday Food, October 2008 via Martha Stewart
Prep Time: 15 Cook time: about 40 to 50 minutes Level: Easy Serves: 4-6
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 whole chicken legs (about 3 pounds total, or separate thighs and legs, skin removed)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) light or regular coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cups canned reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste (or more to taste)
- 1 1/4 cups jasmine rice
- 2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 ounces green beans (stem ends removed), cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 lemon or lime cut into wedges, for serving
- Chopped fresh cilantro, basil or sliced green onions for garnish, optional
In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in two batches, cook chicken until browned, 6 to 8 minutes; transfer to a plate (chicken will cook more in step 2).
To pot, add coconut milk, broth, 1/2 cup water, and curry paste; bring to a boil, and stir in rice. Add chicken (with any juices), arranging pieces in a single layer. Cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, without stirring, until rice is almost tender, 15 minutes.
Scatter bell peppers and green beans on top of chicken mixture; cover, and cook until vegetables are crisp-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve with lemon wedges on the side and optional cilantro, basil or green onions.
For some reason, the directions say to add a half cup of water with the rest of the liquid, but next time I’m leaving it out. As stated above, there was a lot of liquid after making this both times, a little too much for our taste. If your a fan of lots of liquid with your curry dishes, use the water. If not, I’d leave it out.
You could try other veggies in this too, if you’d like. I added sauteed onions (cooked after removing the chicken and most of the rendered fat) the second time I made this. You could also use thin-sliced carrots, added in the same time as the bell peppers and green beans.
We tested this recipe using regular coconut milk.