It’s October here in New England, so every day we are seeing less light and feeling the temperature dropping into cooler ranges. Our sweaters, warming vests, scarves, and gloves are at the ready in our back hallway, and logs for fires are nearby in the garage This change of season is certainly reflected in what I am cooking. We’ve been craving warm, comforting food—spicy chilis, hearty soups, Southern-style smothered pork chops, old fashioned pot roasts with braised vegetables– to name a few. One dish, in particular, a fall chicken and apple curry, has become a favorite.
This simple main course was inspired by a recipe I spotted in a French community cookbook, given to me by a Parisian friend. You’ll need only a single large skillet to prepare it plus a saucepan for cooking the rice to accompany it. Cubes of boneless chicken breast are sautéed along with diced Golden Delicious apples and onions, and then everything is simmered in coconut milk scented with curry and fresh ginger. This golden mélange, served atop mounds of rice, is garnished with toasted almonds, chopped cilantro, and sliced green onions.
Count on 25 to 30 minutes to prep the ingredients and several minutes more to sauté them. Then you simmer this mixture, unattended, about 20 minutes. Like me, I hope you’ll welcome fall by trying this special dish!
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Fall Chicken and Apple Curry with Toasted Almonds and Cilantro
4 tablespoons canola oil plus more if needed
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 1-inch cubes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
1 teaspoon peeled, chopped gingerroot
3 medium Golden Delicious apples (unpeeled), stemmed, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
One 13.5 ounce can coconut milk (See cooking tip)
1/2 teaspoon fresh lime juice plus more if needed
6 thin round lime slices
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted (See cooking tip)
3 greens onions, roots and all but 2 inches of green stems removed, sliced thinly
4 lime wedges
5 cups cooked basmati rice (See cooking tip)
1.Pat chicken cubes dry with paper towels and salt and pepper them generously. In a large, heavy skillet (with a lid) set over medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil until hot, and then add enough chicken to fit comfortably in a single layer. Cook, turning often with tongs, until golden on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.
2.If needed, add 1 to 2 tablespoons or more of oil to the skillet and heat until hot. Add apple cubes and sauté 2 to 3 minutes, stirring. Then add onions and cook, again stirring, until onions are translucent and softened and apples are softened and slightly golden, 3 to 4 minutes or more. Watch carefully.
3.Return chicken and any juices collected on the plate to the skillet. Stir in the curry powder and chopped ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Then stir in the coconut milk and lime juice. Bring mixture to a good simmer and arrange the lime slices on top Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cover. Do not let mixture come to a boil. Cook until chicken and apples are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the lime slices. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste and with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon extra lime juice if desired.
4. Combine cilantro, almonds, and green onions in a small bowl. Mound rice in shallow bowls and ladle curry over. Sprinkle with cilantro/ almond topping, and garnish with lime wedges for squeezing over each serving. Serve 4.
The solids are often separated from the liquids in cans of coconut milk. Use a fork or a small whisk to combine them before adding to the skillet.
To toast sliced almonds, spread them on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in a preheated 350° F oven until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Watch carefully as sliced almonds can burn quickly. Remove and cool.
1 1/4 cups basmati rice will yield about 5 cups cooked rice.
Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2020