Curried Chicken and Greens

Well.  After all my whimpering last week about how not-carefree the year had been, as I prepared my lucky peas for New Year’s Day, I turned the corner into the new year with a resolution to simply incorporate a little more paradise wherever I can.  So for a beautiful southern winter day and a late lunch, I threw the reggae on the stereo and some coconut on a healthy but satisfying warm curried chicken salad and claimed a good hour or so of “island time.”  For that hour or so … it actually kinda worked.

Curried Chicken and Greens

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1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 cup chicken broth
1 bunch greens, like kale, stalks removed and leaves cut into 1-inch ribbons
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup coconut flakes
3 tablespoons fresh juice from 3 limes

This recipe originally called for a bunch of curly kale.  I had an amazing bumper crop of greens this year — I seriously just hurled handfuls of seeds into some raised beds at one point, and for some reason they all took off — but the one thing I didn’t plant was kale.  Kinda over kale in 2019.  But the operative idea with this salad is that you pour the warm chicken juices over the greens to wilt them a bit and form a dressing, so they need to be heartier than plain lettuce.  I went with a mix of bok choy leaves, chard, chicory, arugula, and the giant leaves are an Asian green that is shaped like a collard but a bit less woody and not as bitter.

The smaller, softer leaves I just tore like I would lettuce, but the big Asian greens I removed the stalks, rolled the leaves up and cut them into ribbons.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. and slice your shallot

Heat oil in a large skillet, add chicken and cook until browned on both sides. Transfer chicken to a plate, leaving drippings behind.

Add the shallot to the drippings and cook, stirring frequently, until softened. Stir in red pepper flakes, cumin, and curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the broth and pack the chicken back into the pan; simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate, leaving all of the juices behind. 
While you shred the chicken, allow the cooking liquid to reduce slightly, then return the chicken to the pan and stir through.  Heat for a few minutes until the whole mixture is warmed through.

Here’s the magic moment…pour the hot chicken mixture over the heartier greens, and toss to coat.  (In this case, I left the softer chicory and arugula to be tossed in at the last step, but used the hot chicken to wilt the Asian greens, bok choy and chard.)  Toss again with the lime juice.

Add the cherries and coconut and toss to combine.  I have to admit, in retrospect, that a bit of lime zest might have been nice.  I used a bit more chicken than was called for, and the extra citrus kick would have offset the rich curry flavor well.

No complaints from the crew, though!  Captain had to debate Spaniel Swab on why people eat lunch and dogs don’t…losing the argument and sharing some chicken.  Happy healthy, well-fed, slightly tropical 2020, sailors!

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