Chicken and Coconut Paella

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It sounds a little weird, yes. But this is one of the rare favorites I keep coming back to. Staying on my Tyler Florence kick: Chicken and Coconut Paella. What’s great about this dish: one pot to wash. Rice that’s a little crispy and crunchy and caramelized. Great Thai flavors from coconut milk and mint and coriander (freshly ground, makes a difference). Lemony watercress/pea salad on the side. Prep beforehand and bake it while you’re entertaining guests. Done!

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TW’s Tips

  • I honest to God could not find a package of bone-in chicken thighs at the grocery store (and they had literally every other option for chicken in America), so I bought two combo packets of leg/thigh and a couple of breasts and called it a day. Worked just fine, i.e., don’t obsess about the chicken part.
  • Use coriander seeds instead of ground coriander if you can. It’s fresher and better. Compare it to ground pepper and freshly ground pepper. I make my case.
  • I find that this needs a bit more liquid than the recipe calls for. I added an extra cup or so of coconut milk, and it could take even more.
  • I looooove mint in this dish, but if you’re not a big fan, try flat leaf parsley instead.

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Chicken and Coconut Paella

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup coriander seeds
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely minced
  • 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk (TW: add extra)

Pea Salad

  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed in a colander under cool water
  • Small handful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Mint leaves, for garnish
  • Lemon wedges, for garnish

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400F. Coarsely crack the coriander seeds. Season the thighs well with salt and pepper and sprinkle all over with the cracked coriander. Heat a 3-count of olive oil in a large, deep, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Lay the chicken thighs in the pan, skin side down, and give them a good sear for 3 to 4 minutes to develop a nice crust. Turn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the other side to brown the meat. Take the chicken out of the pan.

Hit the pan with another tablespoon of olive oil and turn the heat down to medium. Add the onion, ginger, and bay leaf and cook, stirring for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onion is soft but not brown. Now you’ve got all this great flavor going on in the bottom of the pan –chicken drippings, ginger, onion, and bay. Add the rice and season with salt and pepper. Stir for a minute of two until the grains are well coated with the oil. Stir in the lemon zest. Now add the broth and coconut milk and bring that to a simmer. Tuck in the chicken thighs, put the whole thing in the oven, and bake, uncovered, until the rice is tender and bound by a creamy sauce and the chicken is entirely cooked through, about 30 minutes. Discard the bay leaf.

When the chicken is done, put the peas, mint, and watercress into a bowl. Add the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt and pepper and give it a good toss. Taste for seasoning. To serve, take a big spoon and scoop out some rice and chicken onto each of 4 plates. Garnish each plate with the pea salad.

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2 thoughts on “Chicken and Coconut Paella

  1. This looks so good! I’ve never tried watercress. Do you think my young kiddos will like it? Is it rather bland?

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