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Poached Chicken and Vegetables with Thai Peanut Sauce

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Serves 4

  • by Ivy Manning from Fine Cooking
    Issue 127

A quick-to-make yet perfectly balanced sauce—rich, creamy, peanutty, a little hot, a little sweet, and brightened with lime juice—enrobes tender chicken and fresh-tasting vegetables in pure deliciousness.

  • 1 cup well-shaken canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, preferably natural
  • 4 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Thai red curry paste
  • 1 Tbs. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice; more to taste
  • 5 oz. baby spinach leaves (about 5 cups)
  • 3/4 lb. broccoli crowns, cut into 1-inch florets (about 4 cups)
  • 2 large carrots, sliced diagonally 1/4 inch thick (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick strips
  • Kosher salt

Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a 6- to 8-quart pot. Have ready a metal steamer basket or bamboo steamer that fits the pot.

Meanwhile, whisk the coconut milk, peanut butter, fish sauce, curry paste, brown sugar, and lime juice in a 1-quart saucepan. Cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until bubbly. Season to taste with lime juice and keep warm on low heat.

Cook the spinach in the water until wilted, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, transfer the spinach to a sieve and press on it to remove as much liquid as possible. Set aside.

Return the water to a boil. Fit the metal steamer basket or bamboo steamer into or over the pot. Arrange the broccoli and carrots in the steamer, cover, and steam until just tender, about 6 minutes. Remove the steamer from the pot.

Add the chicken and 1 tsp. salt to the water. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the chicken poach until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken and vegetables to a platter, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with the sauce.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 490; Fat (g): 31; Fat Calories (kcal): 280; Saturated Fat (g): 15; Protein (g): 36; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9; Carbohydrates (g): 24; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 5; Sodium (mg): 1140; Cholesterol (mg): 65; Fiber (g): 8;

Photo: Scott Phillips

Everything was fine with the preparation of this meal until I got to the peanut sauce. I made it exactly like the recipe said (sans the lime juice) and it was decent...too much peanut butter in my opinion. I had no trouble finding all of the sauce ingredients at my grocery store. I should have left the sauce as it was and NOT added any of the lime juice. I can see how that would brighten the flavor of the sauce, but within seconds my sauce was an oily, congealed mess that was completely unedible. Has anyone else had that problem? After I realized I couldn't eat the sauce, I added soy sauce and stir fry sauce to the chicken and vegetables and it was OK. I wouldn't recommend using spinach, either. I couldn't quite get it to spread out through the dish, it was clumpy. I added a red pepper and onions and it was pretty good. I'll try this again since I have all the makings for the sauce, but I will eliminate the lime juice and lessen the peanut butter.

Fast, delicious and healthy! My 3 and 5 year old gobbled up several helpings. I added onion, herbs and whole pepper to the poaching liquid...might even add some lemon next time. I used three pots: one for the sauce, one for the vegetables and one for the chicken so dinner was ready quicker. I did not use a steaming basket - just cooked the broccoli and the carrots in the pot. Boys gave in 10 fingers and 10 toes up...the best.

Was really hesitant about this...have several friends who were raised on Asian home cooking who are regular dinner guests. Couldn't find Thai red curry paste so used a combination of curry powder, ancho chile powder, red pepper flakes and a dash of cayenne (a pretty poor substitution, I'll admit). Thinned the sauce with a bit more coconut milk and only used about half the fish sauce recommended. Since all the veggies are available prepped at the store, this was a really easy dish to make. Poached the chicken in water with some vegetable broth, white wine and pieces of lemongrass - it was the moistest chicken breast ever. Served it with Triple-Sesame Jasmine Rice and it was all gone by the end of the evening. My hesitation was unwarranted!

Delicious. Plan on more than 1T lime juice. Try to use fresh red curry if you can.

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