This Braised Thai Curry Chicken requires one-skillet, around 40 minutes and only a few ingredients.
For those of you currently on a round of Whole30, please note that this recipe calls for honey. Sure, you can omit the natural sweetener, if so desired, and will find yourself with a delicious Whole30 compliant supper. However, I would like to go on record by saying that one of the defining characteristics of Thai cuisine is the interplay between sweet and savoury. Having said that, it might be best if you save this recipe for your life post-Whole30. Then again, you can do as you like. After all, you’re the boss, applesauce.
Build a Better Thai Curry
In my experience, both cooking and eating, a great Thai curry usually boils down to a few key steps/ingredients. I’ve talked about this before in my post on Basil’s Thai Green Curry Chicken recipe, but it doesn’t hurt to repeat them here.
The first is the curry paste itself. The quality and brand you choose will make a serious difference. You want to avoid ones that have artificial or refined sweeteners/preservatives. You can certainly make your own (I provide a curry paste recipe here). Luckily, there are a few great store-bought options out there that are made with clean ingredients. My personal favourite is made by Arroy-D brand. They have red, green and yellow curry pastes. I find them at my local Asian grocer.
Along with the curry paste, coconut milk is the main ingredient in a Thai curry so be sure to pick one that is delicious. Indeed, not all coconut milks are created equally. As an experiment, the next time your at the grocery store, read the labels of the different coconut milks. I’d be surprised if you didn’t start seeing things like guar gum, gellan gum or locust bean added to the cans.
A great coconut milk will be full-fat and usually contain 60% coconut, with the rest being water. It should have nothing else in it.
I consider myself very lucky to be able to find 1L Arroy-D brand tetrapaks of coconut milk at my local grocery store. I know, this is going to read very much like a sponsored endorsement from Arroy-D. I assure you, it is not. Though feel free to holla’ at ‘ya boy, Arroy-D. I’m ready to go on payroll. While you’re at it, we can add my wife to the payroll as well since she drinks this stuff by the carton.
Toast the Curry Paste
This step is most often overlooked or skipped. I implore you to take the step of toasting or frying the curry in the initial stages of the cooking process. This will release the essential oils from the paste and build maximum flavour. Because each paste is made differently, it is important to continuously taste for seasoning before you add the meat and veggies because once their in, it’s hard to go back.
Kafir Lime leaf, Thai basil & Lemongrass:
If you can find them, kafir lime leaf, Thai basil (sometimes called Holy basil) and lemongrass stalks will add an outrageous amount of flavour to your curry. This is really what separates the men from the boys, so to speak, in that those who go the extra mile will be greatly rewarded. Luckily, Thai basil (or Holy Basil) is becoming more readily available but Kafir Lime leaves can be a bit tricky. I recommend heading to the nearest Asian grocery store. Maybe grab some extra Arroy-D curry paste and coconut milk while you’re there.
Note: the curry may separate after braising in the oven. If this happens, don’t fret. Simply stir in an additional 2-3 tbsp coconut milk and it should return to a creamy consistency. If not, it is still edible and delicious despite its appearance.
- 5-6 bone-in, skin-on chicken legs (or bone-in, skin-on thighs) if using breast, cooking times will be different
- 1 med-size sweet potato peeled and cubed
- 6-8 asparagus stalks cut into 2” pieces
- 4-5 bok choy cut in half, lengthwise
- 2 lemongrass stalks cut in half, lengthwise
- 2 cups full-fat coconut milk
- 1 tbsp Thai green or red curry paste
- 1 tbsp honey omit if Whole30
- 1 tsp compliant fish sauce
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- kosher salt
- Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Rinse and pat chicken very dry with paper towel. Season both sides with a pinch each of kosher salt and black pepper.
- Gradually preheat 10-12” cast-iron skillet over med heat. Melt coconut oil and add chicken. Cook chicken, undisturbed, until golden brown (approx. 8-10 min). Flip and cook additional 4 minutes. Transfer browned chicken to plate or bowl and set aside momentarily.
- Leave rendered fat in skillet and add curry paste. Cook 45 seconds over med heat, stirring constantly. Add ½ cup coconut milk and stir until paste is combined and no longer clumpy. Add remaining coconut milk, honey and fish sauce - stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust savory or sweet flavours as desired.
- Add sweet potato and lemongrass and bring curry to a boil. Return browned chicken to skillet along with asparagus and bok choy. Transfer skillet to preheated oven and cook 12-15min or until internal temperature of chicken reads 185F on digital meat thermometer.
- Garnish with fresh coriander, Thai basil, hot chilies, and lime wedges and serve with sliced cucumbers.