When a Thai craving strikes, you’re first instinct probably isn’t to break out a casserole dish, but his streamlined take on classic chicken panang curry is a flavor-packed, one-dish dinner that’s gonna have you rethinking what it means to casserole. Don’t be intimidated by the seemingly lengthy ingredient list—most of the ingredients are easily found at a typical supermarket, and many may already be waiting in your pantry. Trickier items, like the lemongrass, kefir lime leaves, Thai basil, and tamarind paste can be purchased at an Asian market. Alternatively, you can substitute a bit of lime zest for the lemongrass, leave out the lime leaves altogether, use regular basil in place of Thai, and substitute a little molasses for the tamarind paste. Once you have your ingredients together, preparing the dish is incredibly simple. Even better—it’s make-ahead friendly. Thus, this warming casserole is a perfect dish for holiday entertaining and out-of-town visitors. Simply prep and freeze for an almost-instant and impressive dinner when company arrives.
3 cups canned coconut milk, well shaken
2 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp. red curry paste (such as Thai Kitchen)
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
1 Tbsp. tamarind paste
2 tsp. grated (with a Microplane) lemongrass
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. granulated sugar
3 kaffir lime leaves
1 Thai basil sprig, plus more for garnish
1 garlic clove, smashed
5 Tbsp. (2 1/2 oz.) unsalted butter
4 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups quick-cooking white or brown rice
1 white onion, sliced lengthwise (about 1 cup)
1 red bell pepper, sliced lengthwise (about 3/4 cup)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, butterflied and sliced into 2-in. pieces
How to Make It
Combine coconut milk, stock, red curry paste, lime juice, tamarind paste, lemongrass, fish sauce, sugar, kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil sprig, and garlic in a medium saucepan over medium-high; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover, and remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Pour through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl; discard solids.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-high. Gradually whisk in flour, whisking constantly until no lumps remain. Slowly whisk in strained coconut milk mixture; cook, stirring often, until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Scatter rice evenly on bottom of a buttered 9- x 13-inch baking dish. Top with sliced onion, bell pepper, and chicken.
Pour coconut milk mixture evenly over chicken-rice mixture. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake in preheated oven until rice is tender and chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour. Garnish with Thai basil leaves.
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