It’s high time I start sharing more recipes from The Frugal Paleo Cookbook with all of you! I’m kicking it off with a recipe that’s definitely in my family’s top 3 from the book: Easy Thai Coconut Chicken. This simple Paleo chicken recipe is sure to find its way into your regular dinner rotation.
Easy Thai Coconut Chicken demonstrates everything I love about Paleo: meat, lots of vegetables, healthy fats, and loads of spices. It’s great over a batch of cauliflower rice or even some white rice, if you tolerate it.
Remember: Paleo isn’t low carb, it’s just low crap! Carbohydrates serve so many functions in our bodies that I try to maintain the right level for myself. Want to know what’s best for you? Consider reading Perfect Health Diet, It Starts With Food, or The Paleo Solution.
I’ve got a couple helpful hints for choosing some of the ingredients used in this recipe if it’s the first time you’ll be buying them. First, the good news: everything you need can be found in the regular grocery store (…provided your store sells organic chicken. Free-range is excellent, but sometimes it’s not available–and that’s OK. Just do the best you can with what you have and soldier on making this delicious dish.)
- Look for full fat organic coconut milk that doesn’t contain emulsifiers like carrageenan and guar gum, which can aggravate a healing gut or trigger an unfavorable reaction in your bod. (Here’s an example of coconut milk without the “extras”)
- When skimming the back of a jar of green curry paste, just make sure it’s gluten-free and doesn’t contain added sugars or preservatives common in Asian food such as MSG.
- If you don’t have coconut oil on hand or simply prefer another Paleo-friendly fat, I loved this recipe with pasture-raised lard. I often render it myself, but when that doesn’t happen, I like to use FatWorks brand. It’s really great.
- 1 pound (454 g) chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup onion, diced
- ½ cup (40 g) sliced white mushrooms
- ½ cup (75 g) carrots, sliced into coins
- 1 cup (150 g) zucchini, sliced into half-moon shapes
- 1 (13.6oz/403 mL) can full fat organic coconut milk
- 3 tsp (45 mL) green curry paste
- ½ tsp, plus a pinch kosher salt
- 1 tbsp (45 g) red chile pepper slices
- 1 tbsp (45 g) coconut oil
- In a small bowl combine the canned coconut milk with the green curry paste. Set aside.
- Preheat a large, high-sided skillet with a lid, to medium-high and melt the coconut oil in the pan.
- Meanwhile, cut the chicken breasts into 2-inch (5-cm) cubes and season one side with a sprinkling of kosher salt.
- When the coconut oil is hot, drop the cubed chicken into the pan. This is one time when you don’t want to stir the meat while it cooks. Let the chicken sear, undisturbed, for about 5 minutes before flipping or turning the cubes to a second side to sear for about 3 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium, then add the carrots, onion and garlic to the chicken. Cook and stir for about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, chile pepper slices and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt.
- Continue to cook and stir for another 5 minutes. If at any point the pan is getting too dark with what looks like burnt bits on the bottom, use about a ¼ cup (60 mL) of water to deglaze the pan. Deglazing means that liquid is used to loosen the browned bits stuck to the bottom of a hot pan during the cooking process. The liquid “lifts” them up and incorporates the browned bits as added flavor to the dish. If you need to do it while you prepare this portion of the recipe, do it. If the browned bits are not overwhelming the pan, don’t worry about it.
- When the zucchini and mushrooms are golden brown, pour in the coconut milk mixture. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes at this temperature to reduce the coconut milk slightly and concentrate the flavors.
- I recommend serving this dish over cauliflower rice (which can be found on page 169 of the book) or eating it as a chunky soup, garnished with fresh basil—regular, sweet or Thai basil is fine.
Want to mix things up a bit? Try substituting the chicken for prawns with these instructions:
For a pescatarian variation, 1 pound of prawns (about 31 to 40 per pound [1 kg] size is ideal) can be substituted. Select wild prawns that have been shelled and deveined, for added convenience. Cook the vegetables as directed, then add the prawns to the pan at the same time as the coconut milk mixture. The prawns will cook as the coconut milk simmers and thickens.
Or you can double the recipe and add both chicken and prawns for a crazy good feast! Enjoy this one, guys!