I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again….I’m a big fan of Jaime Oliver. I like his food philosophy, I like his recipes, I like his no-nonsense approach to getting things done in the kitchen, I like the message he’s bringing to the world, and the campaign he’s built to not only get families eating healthier food, but to get better food into the schools for our kids.People ask me all the time, “if you could be any chef on the planet who would it be?”. As you might guess, the normal superstar suspects all come to mind….. let’s see there’s Robuchon, Keller, Ducasse, Vongerichten, Boulud, Ripert, Blumenthal, and Adria, just to name a few. But to be honest, if I could click my heals together today and change myself into any chef currently working, I’d want to be Oliver. I mean, it would be very cool to be any of the aforementioned chefs, working at the very peak of gastronomy, but I don’t think there is any chef working so hard to bring better food and cooking skills to average families and kids than Oliver, and how cool and important is that!
His latest venture is called “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution”, and encompasses a new cookbook, a US based reality TV show on the ABC Network, and a petition drive to urge US schools to improve their school lunch programs. In the TV show, Jaime is working with the residents of Huntington, Virginia (supposedly, the unhealthiest town in the country) to teach them how to cook and eat better and healthier foods. I urge you to check out what Jaime is up too (you’ll be amazed at how much this guy has going on), and sign his petition by clicking the link below.
This recipe is actually one from his “Food Revolution” cookbook, is a breeze to toss together, and was met with cheers from all when we made it a few nights back. I have always been a fan of curries, but have shied from making many of them for the kids because of their bold flavors and levels of spicy heat. This one is great because it uses a mild curry paste, and a coconut milk base that lends it a little sweetness that the kids love. We served it simply with a side of basmati rice and some “nan” bread from the market, but this is one of those dishes that you can dress up as you like. Toss in various veggies you have on hand, or maybe a handful of raisins. Enjoy!
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, preferably organic and free-range
- 1 large onion
- 1 2 inch piece of fresh ginger root
- 1 15 ounce can of chick peas, drained
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup of Korma curry paste (or mild curry paste), made by Patak's, or some other good brand
- 1 14 ounce can of coconut milk
- 1/2 cup of shredded, non-sweetened coconut
- 2 cups greek style, plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1 2 chili peppers (optional)
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 lemon
- vegetable oil
- kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Jaime's "Fluffy Rice"
- 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice
- sea salt
- Cut the chicken into 1" cubes. Peel, half and thinly slice the onion. Peel and finely mince the ginger. Seed and thinly slice the chili if using. Clean and stem the cilantro, reserving the leaves for service, and chopping the stems very finely for inclusion in the curry.
- Put a large saute pan on high heat and add enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken (in batches if necessary so that you don't overcrowd the pan), season with salt and pepper, and cook until nicely browned on all sides, remove from the pan and reserve. Dump out any excess fat, then add the onion, ginger, cilantro stems, and chili (if using) to the pan with the butter, and cook until golden in color, about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the curry paste, coconut milk, chick peas, half of the almonds, shredded coconut and chicken to the pan. Add about a 1/2 can worth of water to the mix to loosen it a little. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 1/2 hour. Check for seasoning before serving, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
- Serve with Jaime's "Fluffy Rice" (recipe below), topped with a dollop of yogurt, some sliced almonds, and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro leaves. Pass wedges of lemon at the table to squeeze over the top if you like.
Jaime's "Fluffy Rice"
- Put a large pot of salted water over high heat to boil. Rinse the rice in a colander under cold water for about a minute, agitating the grains with your hands, until the water runs clear. Add the rice to the boiling water, and wait for the pan to come back to the boil, and for the grains to start "dancing around". When they do, start your kitchen timer for 5 minutes. At the end of the 5 minute boil, drain the rice in the colander, add 1 inch of water back to the pan, place the colander on top of, or into the pan (if it'll fit), and fashion a cover out of aluminum foil to cover the whole thing so that you can steam the rice.
- Put the pan back over a high flame until you hear the water begin to boil, then turn it down to a simmer and steam the rice for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit until you are ready to serve (it'll keep for about 20 minutes before it cools.)
- Remove the foil being careful not to get a steam burn, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve with the curry.