I am so guilty of underusing our slow cooker. Each time someone asks me for slow cooker recipes, I rattle off the most boring and predictable ones (chili, anyone?) before referring the person to someone else’s website for more ideas.
This year I promise to remedy the issue by developing lots of slow cooker recipes (okay, well maybe at least THREE) so I have them on my own site for you to enjoy, and so my family has ready-made meals in the freezer for those cold winter nights we all know are coming (please no).
I have to say that this recipe for Thai Coconut Milk Braised Chicken Thighs is one that sort of knocked my socks off. I’d been rolling it over in my mind for weeks before I finally had the time to develop it for real, and it’s really good. Fully of meaty chicken thighs, rich coconut milk, and other Thai flavors, it’s sure to be a winner at your dinner table as well.
A lot of people are afraid of using coconut milk because it does have saturated fat in it. We know now though that the fat in coconut milk may not be as bad for us as previously thought, and even though the total fat is high, the flavor is delicious. Divided amongst 4-6 people, the fat content is manageable. I also recommend making this recipe in advance and refrigerating it so that the fat rises to the top and you can skim it off.
If you like richer sauces, you can ladle the sauce out of the slow cooker and into a pot, where you can boil it down to your desired thickness. I did that and it worked perfectly.
Don’t forget to squeeze some fresh lime juice into each bowl before serving!
6 large skinless or skin-on bone-in chicken thighs
400 ml can of coconut milk
800 ml chicken broth plus 100 ml
1- 6” piece of lemongrass, split and diced finely after tough outer layer removed
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 inch by 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and microplaned
1 large garlic clove, crushed
3-4 leaves of Thai basil
2T olive oil
Juice and zest of 1/2 lime
1 Thai chili, split and chopped finely
1 cup cilantro, washed well and chopped
Pepper to taste
Cilantro and lime for garnish
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan on the stovetop.
Sautee the onions and garlic until the onions are translucent and browned, then pour into the slow cooker.
In the same pan, brown the chicken thighs well on each side.
Place the browned chicken thighs into the slow cooker.
Discard all but about 1T of the fat remaining in the pan. If you use skin-on thighs they will yield a lot more fat in the pan, but I prefer skin-on chicken for the flavor.
Placing the pan back onto the stove, deglaze the pan with 100 ml of chicken stock, loosening the browned bits on the bottom of the pan as the stock and drippings begin to simmer. Do this for around 3-4 minutes, then add to the slow cooker.
Add the remaining 800ml of chicken broth, the coconut milk, lemongrass, ginger, basil, lime juice and zest, chili, and cilantro to the slow cooker, and turn the power on to low or high depending on your time constraints.
Cook in the slow cooker for around 5-6 hours on low, or 3-4 hours on high.
When the chicken thighs are thoroughly cooked and falls off the bone easily, turn off the slow cooker and skim the fat from the top of the liquid.
As I said earlier, if you prefer thicker sauce, simply place the sauce into a pot on the stove and boil it down until the desired thickness is reached (this takes around 20 mins).
As chicken thighs are a fattier cut of meat, you will see fat rise to the top of the sauce. If you have the time, refrigerate the sauce and chicken and skim the fat from the cooled dish.
Garnish with a squirt of lime juice and cilantro, and serve on its own or over rice. I served mine over sticky rice. Because, you know, sticky rice. It’s so good.