I think it is important to eat quality dinners together as a family. I am constantly seeking out recipes that will satisfy both my husband and my kids, without eating fish sticks. Family dinners are integral to the process of raising kids; it is the best way to teach them about manners, conversation, food and flavors. Sometimes, dining with young children and toddlers can be a bit taxing on the nerves (another glass of wine anyone?) but I know that in the end, this time connecting together as a family and eating real food, is worth the effort.
Like all parents, I have no idea until it hits the table if the kids will eat what I prepare. I don’t want to make an entire dinner and have them eat nothing. To ward off eating strikes, I have gotten in the habit of always leaving some raw veggies on a platter for the table – if the girls just helped harvest them from the garden, the better the chance of them helping them selves and nibbling away. I also try to cook a portion of the protein separately from the sauce. Then we have some options and I am not making two separate dinners! My girls are, for the most part, good eaters but they are not crazy about too many things all mixed together.
From one of my mainstays, Fine Cooking Magazine, I was inspired to make this easy version Red Chicken Curry…normally when I make curries, I prepare it from scratch. This one ended up being an easy and excellent dinner at home for the family. I was able to prep everything in the afternoon while the girls were at school, so the actual cooking time pre-dinner was super quick. We have snow peas in the garden so I got to use up some of those, too.
The verdict: My three-year-old called the sauce “soup” and gave it a try. My normally adventuresome five-year-old did not want to try the sauce, at all. They loved their “naked” chicken and veggies. The grown-ups loved our curry, so we were happy campers. I served everything over jasmine rice.
This will be a regular addition to our family weeknight meals repertoire. Rica and I ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.
Red Chicken Curry
1 Tbs. vegetable oil
3 Tbs. red Thai curry paste
2 cups snap peas, trimmed and cut in half on the diagonal
2 large shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced into 2-inch-long strips
1-2 sliced Jalapenos with seeds (optional)
1 13.5- to 14-oz. can of coconut milk
6 wild lime leaves (Kaffir lime, this is optional)
1 Tbs. light brown sugar
12 oz. boneless, skinless organic chicken thighs (about 4) cut into 1- to 1-1/2-inch pieces
1 cup loosely packed Thai basil (or regular basil, torn into small pieces)
2 Tbs. fish sauce
1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. fresh lime juice
¼ cup whole cilantro leaves for garnish
Heat the oil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, 20 seconds. Take the pan off of the heat and stir in the snap peas, shallots, pepper, coconut milk, lime leaves (if using), sugar, and 1 cup water. Stir to combine. Add the chicken, bring to a simmer over medium heat, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the basil, fish sauce, and limejuice. Let rest off the heat for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Serve over rice.
Extras for the kids: Chop additional ingredients and section off the following to offer to the table family style …
1/2 cup snap peas, trimmed and cut in half on the diagonal
1/2 of a medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced into 2-inch-long strips
To prepare the chicken “sauce free” cut up an additional piece of chicken and sprinkle with Wondra (1 tablespoon) and season with salt and pepper. In a skillet over medium heat, add one tablespoon of grape seed oil and the chicken. Cook stirring occasionally until chicken is almost finished, then add 1 small clove of garlic minced. Continue to cook until the meat is cooked thru, for a total of about 8 minutes.
Serves 6 big people and 2 little ones.
-You can find Kaffir lime leaves at most Asian markets, if you make the trip get your curry paste there, too. It makes the curry have a great depth of flavor.
-I buy my Grape Seed Oil and Coconut Milk (I use light coconut milk) at Trader Joe’s.
-Debone your own thighs, it’s great practice for knife skills but if you don’t want to deal with it, buy them pre-done. The thigh meet is a winner in this dish, so tasty!
-Wondra is a fantastic staple to have on hand; it is great for thickening sauces in a pinch. Here, it’s terrific for giving the chicken nice crispy crust with a great golden brown color.