I'm fascinated by how food makes people feel. I'm less interested in the relationship between what we eat and our physical health (I think we all have a pretty clear idea what makes us feel good and where we should proceed with caution), I'm thinking more about food and cooking and how it impacts our mood, our sense of balance, our stress levels. For example, when things are busy or a bit fraught, I love the kind of cooking that makes me feel as though, in the kitchen at least, I'm 'winning at life' and that's usually centred around being prepared and ahead of the game; ideally having dinner identified and well on the way to completion before lunch time.
It's no secret that my love for the slow cooker has waxed and waned over the years, but right now I have an acute desire to feel as though I'm winning at life so I decided to give it another chance.
Using a slow cooker to make dinner is not going to be a positive addition to my day if the resulting dish is a bland, mushy slop - I've got high standards, you know - and so, I experimented with a few new slow cooker recipes and did some more research into the things that make the difference between meh and FABULOUS...
One of the books I consulted was Slow Victories: A Food Lover's Guide To Slow Cooker Glory* and this Slow Cooker Lemongrass and Coconut Chicken Curry is tweaked from one of Katrina's recipes.
It's a chicken curry with a coconut base, fragrant aromatics and a gentle warmth and I can say hand on heart that it's good. Scratch that it's DELICIOUS! The onions and the aromatics (ginger, lemongrass, garlic and basil) are sautéd first, but apart from that, everything else is just thrown in and then 8 hours later - TAH DAH - out comes a truly delicious dinner.
Here's why I think you'll gush about this Slow Cooker Lemongrass and Coconut Chicken Curry
- The chicken is tender, really tender and I don't always get that with a slow cooker dish.
- There are no difficult ingredients and it even uses ready prepared lemongrass (in a jar) because although fresh is delicious, the preparation is tedious and I do always feel as though the fibres end up looking like there are stray hairs in the dish! I also used ginger that I had in the freezer but grating it in the moment is less of a drama and must be fantastic for muscle definition.
- I made the curry relatively mild but you can go heavier with the cayenne pepper if you like it hot. Alternatively, some fresh chillies sprinkled as part of the garnish would also be good (see below).
- Don't be fooled into believing that garnish is what 'other people' do - here it is ESSENTIAL for both taste and aesthetics. I used coriander, mint, basil, chopped peanuts and a squeeze of lime.
- This is a great midweek dinner but is definitely fancy enough for having friends over (especially when you know you are going to be busy during the day).
- Leftovers the next day behave very well and it also freezes like a dream. I made single portion pots with brown rice, curry and frozen peas - they will be perfect for food flasks in packed lunches.
And the things I learned when I was making this curry -
The sauce is fairly runny immediately after it's finished cooking. I like it this way, particularly when I'm serving it with rice. If you'd like it thicker, you can reduce it a little and there are two options -
- If your slow cooker has a sauté setting, you can remove the lid and let it bubble away on SAUTÉ until you've reached the desired thickness. Keep an eye on it and stir every now and then so that it doesn't stick.
- Alternatively, and still with the lid removed, switch the slow cooker setting to HIGH and continue to cook for longer until you're happy with the consistency.
If you're not going to eat the curry straight away, I'd suggest you don't thicken it too much - the sauce soaks into the chicken as it cools and it gets thicker. My photos were taken the following morning and you can see that it's fairly thick.
And one more time for the people at the back, DON'T MISS OUT THE GARNISHES - it's worth the extra effort; really, truly it is.
And finally ...
I would serve this with brown rice (I rarely use white rice for reasons of health and wanting everyone to stay satisfied for as long as possible), all the garnishes (just in case you missed it the first and the second time) and probably a light green salad. I might also throw in a pita bread or two as I'm rather partial to what is effectively a 'curry sandwich' (also works well with chilli). Don't judge me.
I think you're going to enjoy this and with any luck you might also, just for a moment, feel as though you're winning at life. Now go forth and garnish.
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