30 minute Coconut Chicken & Rice
This satisfying, hearty, 30-minute coconut chicken & rice is a one pot meal so you can get a delicious, real food dinner on the table with very little effort. And your family will thank you for it.
Friends, I’m really super excited about this one. Creamy coconut. Tender rice. Succulent chicken. Flavorful shiitake. Hearty kale. 30 minutes. And all in one pot. Are you so excited yet?
It’s another 30 minute meal because who doesn’t need more of those in their arsenal of weeknight meals, am I right? Let’s talk ingredients for a second.
First of all, rice.
Again, I’m using white rice for simplicity’s sake. You’re in a hurry and you need dinner on the table quick, white rice is your best friend. Try to find organic white rice (long grain, in this case), and wash it thoroughly until the water runs clear. If you’d rather use brown rice, no problem! I’ve done it, and it’s delicious! It just won’t be a 30 minute meal any more. And remember to soak it properly to remove phytic acid so you can actually digest your food. Follow the instruction here for the proper proportions of liquid to rice. Use one can of coconut milk and make up the rest of the liquid with water to sub for the cooking water.
And now, kale.
I feel like kale is so misunderstood. There are those who praise kale to no end and add it to everything because it’s just so darn good for you. And it is so unbelievably nutritious. I mean, 1180% DV of vitamin K (among other almost unbelievable nutritional benefits) in one measly serving? Are you kidding me?
But then there’s the kale-haters club who think it’s too fibrous and bitter and … well, green! And, let’s be honest, a little too trendy of a vegetable. I get it! Texture and flavor are so important to me, who cares how good for you something is if it’s not palatable, right?
Let’s, for one second, ignore the nutritional profile and just enjoy it for what it is. It has a pretty coarse texture, which can be unappealing to some. We’re dealing with that appropriately in this dish by using Lacinato kale (also know as Tuscan kale), which has flatter leaves without the kinda sharp edges of your usual green kale. We’re also going to slice it as thinly as possible so you get pretty kale ribbons instead of big, chewy chunks. And, my main reason for choosing it over other greens, is it’s amazing ability to maintain some texture after steaming. See, other greens break down too much for a set-the-timer-and-walk-away meal, and our friend kale is a steaming/braising beast. It softens just enough to lose the squeaky crunch that’s so unique to raw kale, without any hint of sliminess or mushiness from overcooked veg. And oh heavens, it hangs on to the tang from the little drizzle of lime at the end, so it doesn’t have to compete with the creamy coconut milk or disappear under the umami richness of the mushrooms and chicken.
Speaking of chicken, this is not the time for leaner chicken breasts. And I’ll tell you why:
- Chicken thighs are cheaper, so you can potentially afford better quality chicken. Try to go with local and free range.
- The higher fat content means no drying out. And that fat flavors your rice, so win-win. If you are a chronic chicken breast buyer, you’re going to be blown away at the succulence of the chicken. You might even worry for a second that it’s still raw because it’s so tender. But it’ll be fully cooked, and juicyyyyyyy.
- Good fat is … you got it, GOOD. Get good quality meat from a chicken that got to spend some quality time outside, could actually use it’s thighs to walk, and eat it sparingly.
- And seriously, fat is flavor. Chicken thighs have more flavor. I like flavor.
Ready to make some coconutty chicken & rice? Enjoy!
- 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, preferably free range and organic
- fine sea salt
- 2 tablespoons unrefined virgin coconut oil, seperated
- 4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean, stem removed, and caps thinly sliced
- 1 bunch of Lacinato (Tuscan) kale, washed, stem removed, and sliced thinly*
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 3 cups long grain white rice, preferably organic, rinsed until the water runs clear**
- 1 13.5 ounce can of (full-fat) coconut milk
- enough water to make up 3 cups of liquid (about 1 cup of water)***
- 2 scallions, sliced thinly
- lime wedges, for serving
- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel and season generously with salt on both sides.
- In a 6 quart pot or sauté pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmering, place the chicken thighs in the pan, making sure not to overlap the chicken. Cook without moving, until golden brown on the first side, 2~3 minutes. Using a spatula or tongs, flip the chicken thighs over and cook on the other side until browned, another 2~3 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and place on a plate and set aside.****
- Add the remaining oil, mushrooms, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms brown slightly, about 3~5 minutes. Make a well in the center of the pan and add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15~30 seconds. Add the rice, coconut milk, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and stir to combine. Evenly distribute the kale over the top, and replace the chicken over the kale. Bring the liquid to a boil, place the lid on, and drop to a simmer. Let cook for 10~15 minutes, until the liquid is all absorbed and the rice is tender.
- Sprinkle scallions over the top and serve with a lime wedge to squeeze over each serving.
- *To remove the stem, hold the stem with one hand and grab the leaves with the other hand and pull along the stem, from cut end to the tip of the leaf. It should come off fairly easily. Then stack the leaves on top of each other, roll them up and slice thinly.
- **To wash rice, place the rice in a fine mesh strainer over a similar sized bowl. Fill the bowl with water and agitate the rice with your hands. The water will turn very milky. Drain and repeat until water is almost clear, this should take 4~5 times of washing.
- ***Add the contents of the coconut milk into a large liquid measuring cup. Add water to the measuring cup until it reaches 3 cups. That's the cooking liquid.
- ****The chicken shouldn't be cooked all the way through at this point. You just want to form a good crust and you'll finish cooking with the rice.
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