Like many of you, I like to experiment with new recipes, but for them to make the “weeknight” cut, they need to be prepared – start to finish – in 30 minutes or less. To do this, some shortcuts need to be made.
In this recipe, I use boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders to save time. This way, I don’t need to cut the chicken before cooking, plus using chicken makes it a little healthier too. Also, many grocers carry pre-cut onions and bell peppers and you can certainly save time by using them; but they are a little more expensive. And I have no problem using frozen garlic; you know, the kind in the cubed tray (I get mine from Trader Joe’s). Even though I prefer to chop my own vegetables, there are many times during the week where I don’t have time to peel and chop garlic. I also take advantage of frozen brown rice. If you haven’t checked this out, you need to! It can be prepared in 3-4 minutes.
Now, there is an interesting twist to this recipe…I replace unsweetened coconut milk with evaporated milk. My rationale: Evaporated milk is fresh milk which is carefully heated to remove half the water. The result of this evaporation is the milk becomes richer and creamier also increasing the amount of protein and calcium per serving, so why not use it in place of coconut milk? I tried it and liked it, as did our entire test kitchen! And I cut a lot of calories and fat by doing so. If you prefer a thicker curry, you can easily add a little cornstarch (see Cook’s Tip in recipe).
Introducing kids to spicier foods is a slow process, at least in my family. Depending on the origin of the curry powder, curries can range from sweet & mild to sweet & moderately hot or pungent & very hot. For my family, I play it safe and stick with mild (flavors are much more intense for kids).
For this recipe, you will need a few ground spices – curry powder, coriander and turmeric to be exact. If you prefer to streamline the spices, you can use 1-2 tablespoons of curry paste.
Heat vegetable oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and ground black pepper; add to skillet seasoning side down. Cook until browned; turn over and cook until no longer pick in center (this will take a few minutes per side). Transfer to plate.
Add red bell pepper and onion to skillet along with curry powder, coriander and turmeric. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4 minutes. If you want to sweeten it up, you can also add a peeled, chopped apple (my kids like this).
Stir in garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.
Add evaporated milk; stir to break up any brown bits on bottom of skillet – lots of flavor there!
Add cooked chicken back to skillet with any accumulated juices along frozen peas.
Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until heated through. Serve over brown rice. If you like cilantro, it’s a great addition to this dish. You can also add some canned diced tomatoes.
So there you have it; start to finish, on the table in 30 minutes. Great for back to school.
Do you have recipe shortcuts and creative uses for evaporated milk? I would love to hear them!