Out of the Blue Coconut Chicken

by Millie Bentley

Greetings. Do you have friends with whom you don’t communicate for months or years at a stretch? But when you do it’s as though you spoke only yesterday?

I have three or four such friends and it’s always such a pleasure to speak or visit with them I wonder why I wait so long to get in touch. Once in a while my old friend Imagene pops up out of the blue to tell me, among other things, about some exotic item that’s available somewhere or to tell me about some recipe she thinks I can’t live without. Mostly she’s right about the recipes; they’re real jewels. Here’s a gem she dropped on me a while back:

Coconut Chicken

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

12 chicken thighs (or your favorite pieces)

3 shallots or ½ onion, very finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ inch fresh ginger, finely minced

1 ½ cups coconut milk (available canned)

2 or 3 pieces (about 1 ½ inches) of fresh lemongrass if available

3 tablespoons orange marmalade

Salt, optional

Black pepper, freshly ground if possible, optional

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, lightly tossed

Heat butter and olive oil in a very large skillet. Add chicken and cook for about 5 minutes or until nicely browned on all sides. With a slotted spoon, remove chicken to a platter and keep warm. Add shallots or onions, garlic and ginger to skillet and saute about 2 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid burning anything, especially the garlic.

If you burn the garlic, you might as well throw it out and start over, because garlic, when burned, becomes very bitter and permeates the entire dish. Yuck.

Return the browned chicken to the skillet; add lemongrass pieces if available (no substitutes) and stir in the coconut milk, marmalade and salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Simmer uncovered about 10 minutes or until the chicken is tender.

Place on a large rimmed plate or shallow bowl (pasta bowl works fine) and sprinkle with the freshly toasted coconut. Place any extra coconut in a small bowl and serve as a condiment along with some marmalade. Serve with hot steamed jasmine rice. Yum, Yum, Yum.

Until next week, dear Reader, vaya con Dios.