Sunday, August 9, 2009

Thai Summer Bean Stew with Chicken

I am in the passenger seat of our car as Jack drives us to yet another destination. I haven’t been writing on my blog much because there is always something of a higher priority which demands my attention. Having the opportunity to just sit and write has not been on my schedule lately, and when I realized that I would have a couple of hours “downtime” (without having to plan menus, go over shopping or “to do” lists, etc.), I knew what I wanted to do.

There are a huge amount of recipes which I have made in the past 2 months that I want to post and review, but I need to start with one of the most recent.

Last weekend, my good friends Jenni and Nancy joined me at the lake house for a couple of days of cooking and talking and laughing and just having fun. At Jenni’s wise suggestion, I assigned each of them a meal to be responsible for, rather than assembling the menus myself, and a great idea it turned out to be. The first evening I made a Thai stew which was served over jasmine rice. Jenni made breakfast the next morning, Greek omelets and basil-asiago biscuits. Nancy decided on a lunch of chicken-Roquefort sandwiches and fruit salad. And so on. The meals were nicely planned and, with three cooks in the kitchen (never too many cooks!), preparation was fun and easy.

I really would like to have my vary own sous chef, all of the time… :)

My first post after this lengthy absence will be for the Thai stew.

Last month we bought bedroom furniture which necessitated our moving the contents of a few rooms around. One room which had to disappear was the library (made into another guest room with the extra bedroom set). Bookcases and credenzas were moved into the basement to hold Jack’s office publications and paperwork, since he is planning to relocate from a separate building into our house. I found that I had to deal with stacks of old magazines, mostly cooking-related (surprise, surprise), and I did this by leafing through them all and tearing out the most interesting recipes and articles. I really did try to control myself, and I ended up with “just” a couple of hundred more recipes to slide into plastic sleeves and file in my binder system. Good heavens, when will I try them all?!?!?

One recipe, in particular, called to me from the moment I saw it. Taken from an old issue of Food and Wine, from back when I had barely discovered Thai food, it sounded intriguing enough to make for my cooking buddies. Plus, the day was forecast as rainy and I didn’t want to plan anything grilled since getting to the grill at the lake house necessitates a trip down to the lower patio. I’ve used the grill in the rain before, and it is not a fun experience.

The F & W description of this recipe is as follows:

This is a quintessential summer dish, with coins of corn, tender beans, and chicken in a tangy basil-and-cilantro-laced coconut curry sauce.

This. Was. INCREDIBLE. If you love Thai food like we do, do not wait to make this. This stew was so delicious that my mouth waters just thinking about it!

The recipe called for fresh fava beans and, after a few phone calls, I realized that this was simply not going to happen. Fortunately the recipe instructions also mentioned using shelled edamame as a substitute and I have plenty of those in the freezer.

I used green string beans (the store did not have the yellow wax beans which I was also counting on) so I used only those and the frozen edamame. I sprinkled a good amount of Thai basil on serving, and with the beans added a small red bell pepper, chopped, for additional color and flavor but otherwise it was prepared as directed. The chicken breasts were a bit on the thick side, and we were afraid that they may not have been cooked thoroughly all of the way through, so we added them to the stew for a final few minutes of cooking instead of assembling the dish in the way the recipe instructs.

And don’t forget the lime wedges to squeeze on the individual portions, that simple addition makes all of the difference.