Friday, August 31, 2007

Thai Weekend Part I: Thai BBQ Chicken with Red Curry Sauce and Jasmine Rice

This weekend, I've decided, is to be all about thai food. And for this first installment of "Thai Weekend," I tried my hand at a red curry. Now, it should be noted, I have no experience with red curry, other than eating it from the many take out shops in my neighborhood. Not that that should stop me from having a go at it, of course... but I invite any advice and/or criticism from those of you who might actually know something about thai cuisine. My lack of knowledge in this area notwithstanding, here's what I did:

First, I made the red chili paste. I based this on a recipe I found on the Epicureous website, with a few adjustments of my own, of course.

The Ingredients:

15 dried hot red chiles, halved and seeds discarded
4 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 fresh lemongrass stalks, 1 layer of outer leaves discarded, finely chopped
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
4 tsp peeled and finely chopped galangal
Zest and juice of one lime
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro stems
3 large shallots, minced
4 cloves garlic, miced
20 small thai chiles (or 10 serrano chiles), finely chopped
2 tsp shrimp paste
I Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp palm sugar
1/2 tsp salt

The Process:

Chop the dried chiles into 1/4 inch pieces and reconstitute them in some warm water for about 30 minutes.

While the chiles are soaking, toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Grind the coriander, cumin and peppercorns with a large mortar and pestle into a fine powder. Add the lemongrass, galangal, lime zest, cilantro, shallots, garlic, palm sugar, fresh chiles, and soaked dried chiles. Grind all of this in the mortar until a loose paste is formed. Add shrimp paste, fish sauce, lime juice and salt. Continue to mash to a relatively smooth consistency. The final outcome will look something like this:

With the curry paste done, you can turn your attention to the chicken. You're going to want to butterfly the chicken, which is done thusly:

With your chicken placed backside up on the cutting board, cut through the ribs along either side of the backbone with a good (or bad) pair of kitchen shears:

Pull out the backbone, turn the chicken over, and spread it out on the cutting board. Cut along each side of the keel bone and remove:

With the keel bone removed, turn the chicken back over and, using your fingers, separate the skin from the breast and thigh meat:

Evenly distribute some of the red curry paste under the skin of each breast and thigh (about one teaspoon per breast, and one teaspoon per thigh). Now you're ready to grill this bad girl. Place your bird on the grill, skin side down, over medium direct heat. Some of the fat underneath the skin will drip down onto the heating elements (or coals), causing an occasional flare-up. Adjust the heat accordingly (you don't want your chicken to catch on fire...). Leave the bird in this position just until it has some nice grill marks. When you flip the bird over it will look like this:

Continue to cook the bird, underside down. Your chicken will be done once a temperature of 150F is achieved at the breast (check the temperature of the thigh opposite the breast you checked as well; it should be a bit higher). Now it should be noted that the USDA recommends cooking chicken to 170F. However, breast meat begins to toughen at 155F. So as long as the juices are running clear, well, to Hell with the USDA. Live dangerously, my friends!

Now is the time to bring the bird inside and carve it up. First, remove each thigh and leg:

With the keel bone removed, separating the breasts is a snap:

Once your chicken is fully deconstructed, place the parts on a sheet pan, cover them with foil, and place into an oven at low heat to keep them warm. Put 1 cup of Jasmine rice and 1-1/4 cup of water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to low, and cook the rice for 30 minutes. While this is happening, preapre your sauce: Saute one shallot, finely diced, over medium heat in a bit of butter for several minutes, until it just turns translucent. Add one clove of garlic, minced, and continue to saute for one minute. Add one cup of coconut milk and two teaspoons of curry paste. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and cook this down until it begins to thicken up.

Plate chicken quarters, add rice and drizzle with the sauce, as per the photo up top.

I should warn you: The end result of this will be hot. STUPID hot. FECKLESS IDIOT hot. If you're not accustomed to spicy food, scrap this whole endeavor and make yourself some Mac & Cheese. But if you're down with serious thai food, this is a recipe I think you'll be happy with. Enjoy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Think I'll go with the Mac and Cheese...
Aside from the chicken being too hot for me, I'm too lazy to go to all that trouble! LGS