This recipe was one of the first ones that made me feel like I HAD to get a dutch oven. I mean, I’m a grown woman and I have no ability to take a dish from the stovetop to the oven? What’s wrong with this world? (Sarcasm alert, first word problems, whatever. I’m joking. Kind of.)
I read through the comment section over and over in an attempt to glean wisdom from the other chefs’ comments. Per their advice, I juiced a lemon and zested it rather than throwing entire slices in the dish (the pith can make the final flavor too bitter). In lieu of fresh lemongrass, which was not readily available at the closest grocery story, I tossed in small pieces freeze-dried lemongrass. This was before I had read anything about lemongrass whatsoever. In the end I had to strain out all the hard little pieces which didn’t make for the nicest texture. You live and learn. Final note: I added an extra can of coconut milk, which, in my opinion, put the dish over the top into a too-creamy territory. Despite the small quibbles, the dish was really delicious. I’ll definitely be fixing this again for my family.
Chicken in Coconut Milk with Lemongrass
Serves 4 to 6
1 whole roasting chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro stems
1 large lemon, cut into eighths
1 stalk lemongrass, 5 inches of white part only, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 (14- to 16-ounce) can coconut milk
3 cups torn greens (spinach, kale, chard, mizuna, etc.)
2 green onions, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
Chopped cilantro, to garnish
Cooked rice, to serve
Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper. Put the chicken, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, or if you’re going to cook it right away, set it aside while you prepare remaining ingredients.
When ready to bake the chicken, preheat the oven to 375°F.
Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the oil. Put in the chicken, breast-side up, and let it sizzle for about 30 seconds. Carefully flip the bird and crisp the other side for another 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and pour off the fat in the pot.
Transfer the chicken back into the pot, breast-side up, and add the cinnamon stick, star anise, chopped cilantro stems, lemon, lemongrass, garlic, and coconut milk. Cook, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes (depending on size). Spoon the sauce over the top of the bird to baste every 20 minutes or so. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°F.
Remove chicken from the pot and put it on a plate. Pull out and discard the cinnamon stick and star anise. Put the pot with the sauce back on the stovetop over medium heat, add the spinach and stir until just wilted, about 10 seconds.
Carve the chicken and serve each piece over rice with sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro leaves.