Food: Curried Chicken with Rice
There are a few tried-and-true recipes that weasel their way into my menu week after week. This is one of ’em.
Simple to throw together with on-hand ingredients, the original recipe for this family-favorite ‘comfort food’ came from my sister in 1998. I’ve tweaked it a bit over the years, substituting olive oil for butter, reducing the amount of chicken and flour, and increasing the veggies. (See note on vegetarian version, below.)
It’s not essential to grate the carrots but they cook much faster if you do, and it improves the texture of the sauce. Using canned chicken and my trusty rice cooker, the whole meal is ready in less than 20 minutes.
Canned Chicken? Yes, you can.
For a long time, I wasn’t a fan of canned chicken — the texture was mushy and it always tasted like … metal. I used it only for the most dire cooking emergencies, and even then I’d try to hide it in a soup or under a mound of barbecue sauce.
Then I discovered this little trick for reviving canned chicken:
Coat a nonstick frying pan with cooking spray; add well-drained, canned chicken and break up slightly with a spatula. Season chicken with pepper and whatever seasonings you’ll be using in the dish (in this case curry powder, and a little garlic and onion powder — do not add salt!) and toss to coat.
Without stirring, allow chicken to brown slightly over medium-heat (2-3 minutes), then flip to lightly brown the other side. This allows the packing water to evaporate and removes some of the tinny taste, without overly drying the meat.
Voila! A reasonable facsimile of “real” cooked, shredded chicken breast.
Curried Chicken with Rice
Makes 6 servings
2 cans chicken chunks (12 1/2 oz. each), or 2-3 chicken breast halves, cooked and cubed
4-6 raw carrots, peeled and grated
1 large onion, chopped
2 T. olive oil
2 T. flour
1-2 tsp. curry powder (less for picky eaters)
½ tsp. each, salt and pepper
3 cups chicken broth
Cooked rice–for six servings
Heat oil in nonstick pan over medium heat; add onions and carrots and sauté until softened – about 10 minutes. Add flour, curry powder, salt and pepper. Stir and cook until vegetables are coated with mixture (1-2 minutes.)
Stir in chicken broth, a little at a time, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally until mixture is slightly thickened. Add chicken; taste and adjust seasonings (the curry flavor will get stronger as it thickens). Serve over rice.
This recipe doubles easily. For a Thai-inspired version, substitute red curry paste for the curry powder and add a can of lowfat coconut milk to extend the sauce and make it richer.
Vegetarian version: Substitute drained, cubed, firm tofu sauteed in non-stick cooking spray for the chicken. Add 1/2 c. peeled, diced baking potato (optional) and 1/2 c. chopped green or red bell pepper to the carrots and onion.