1 (3½-pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces
2½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
Black pepper, as needed
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2 tablespoons peanut, safflower or vegetable oil
¼ cup finely chopped scallion
1½ inches fresh ginger, peeled and grated (1½ tablespoons)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 to 2 jalapeño or Serrano chilies, to taste, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 (15½-ounce) can coconut milk
2 medium sweet potatoes (1 pound), peeled and cut into 1½-inch chunks
¾ cup coconut flakes
1 tablespoon black or brown mustard seeds
Fresh cilantro leaves
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil. Brown chicken pieces, in batches if necessary, until golden all over, six to eight minutes per batch. Transfer chicken to a plate.
3. Stir scallion, ginger, garlic and chilies into pot and reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until soft, one to two minutes. Stir in curry paste and cook one minute. Stir in coconut milk and sweet potatoes. Arrange chicken pieces on top of potatoes, placing breast meat on top. Pour in enough water to come halfway up the sides of chicken. Bring to a boil. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Bake until chicken is cooked through, about 40 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a large dry skillet over medium heat, toast coconut flakes until golden, two to three minutes. Add mustard seeds and toast until they begin to pop, one minute more. Transfer to a bowl and season with a pinch of salt.
5. Transfer chicken and sweet potatoes to a platter. Return Dutch oven to the stove and simmer over medium-high heat until cooking liquid has thickened to a saucelike consistency, five to 10 minutes. Pour over chicken and potatoes. Sprinkle with the coconut and mustard seed mixture and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.
By Melissa Clark, The New York Times