Coconut is a hot topic in the health food realm. And while nutritionists clash on whether or not the oil of coconut is beneficial for health, I think everyone would agree that coconut itself brings some nutritional benefits to the table. Certainly, there is evidence of its powers as an aphrodisiac. Therefore, it’s my belief that using it as the main flavoring agent for a chicken stew turns an everyday soup into something exotic, perhaps even sexy.
What is coconut milk
For my Coconut and Chicken Stew, I use coconut milk. Coconut milk is made from a brew of coconut meat with water. It is a thick, creamy mixture with an aroma and flavor that transports me straight to some sun-kissed tropical island. Of course, that ambrosial goodness comes with a caloric price. Coconut milk is incredibly calorie dense, not to mention high in saturated fat. That’s why I use it in combination with chicken stock and a pot full of vegetables, including the aphrodisiacs of garlic and tomato–which, technically, is a fruit. (You can substitute with “lite” coconut milk but I prefer the creamy texture the full fat version brings to the final stew.)
A “forgiving” chicken stew
My version of chicken stew is a forgiving sorts of recipes. In other words, if corn isn’t in season or you only have the orange carrots without the green tops, you can just substitute with your favorite seasonal vegetable, like some spinach or kale. I also suggest adding rice, if you like. I generally use a fragrant, jasmine rice but if you’re looking for added health benefits, brown rice works. Or, if you want to save yourself a few carbs, you can skip the rice altogether. I also love serving it as a stew of just chicken and veggies. But the one place you cannot skimp is with the lime. You must make sure you use a generous squeeze of fresh lime just before serving.
This simple chicken stew recipe is hearty yet healthy. If the vegetables aren't in season, jsubstitute with the same amount of your favorite veggies. Just be sure not to skimp on the fresh lime.
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts cubed, approx. 1 lb
- salt and black pepper
- 2 tsp grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 1 bunch carrots tops included*
- 1 ear white corn
- 1 lg tomato seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 1 sm yellow onion chopped
- 2 c chix stock
- 1 13.5-oz can coconut milk
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 c cooked rice optional
Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large, non-stick saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and sear the chicken cubes until golden on both sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
Remove tops from carrots. Peel and cut carrots into 1/2" thick rounds. Remove the thick stems from the carrot tops and roughly chop the leaves.
In the pan in which you cooked the chicken, cook the carrots through onion over medium-high heat until onions are soft, about 3 minutes.
Return the chicken to the pan, add the stock and bring it to a boil. Turn heat down, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in coconut milk and lime juice before serving. Season with additional salt to taste. Serve as a stew or over rice.
* Carrot tops are rarely used in recipes but are as edible as the orange root. They offer a distinctive herbal flavor.
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