Friday, March 26, 2010

Nigella Adapted Thai-Inspired Coconut Milk Roasted Chicken served with her Lemon Mint & Spinach Salad

It's Potluck time at I Heart Cooking Clubs this week so anything goes and any Nigella Lawson recipe we want to make is fair game. I decided to take the recipe for Buttermilk Roast Chicken from "Nigella Express" as inspiration and adapt it (OK, pretty much change all the ingredients), to be a Thai-Inspired dish with coconut milk filling in for the buttermilk, and lots of my favorite Thai ingredients. I am sure the original recipe is quite wonderful but I am restricting my dairy consumption so I picked coconut milk as an alternative. With coconut milk on the brain, my thoughts immediately went to Thai flavors like kaffir lime, lemongrass and ginger, and thus this Thai-Inspired Coconut Milk Roasted Chicken was born.

Since I really just took the techniques from the chicken recipe, I decided to make another Nigella recipe, her Lemon, Mint & Spinach Salad from "Feast" as written, to go with the chicken thinking that the flavor combination would work well. (Plus I had a big bunch of local mint from the market to use up--always a good incentive to make a recipe!). With the chicken (just lite coconut milk in the marinade and a little drizzle of olive oil), spinach salad and a side of leftover brow rice-grain mix, it was a healthy and very tasty dinner.

If you want to compare the two recipes, you can find Nigella's recipe for Buttermilk Roast Chicken at the Food Network here or in "Nigella Express" (pages 274-275).

Thai-Inspired Coconut Milk Roast Chicken
by Deb, Kahakai Kitchen, inspired and adapted from Nigella Lawson
(Yields 5-6 Servings of 2 drumsticks each)

10-12 chicken drumsticks
1 can lite coconut milk (or 1/2 can regular coconut milk mixed w/ 1/2 can water)
6 kaffir lime leaves, torn into small pieces
4 stalks lemon grass, white part only, peeled and bruised
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated or minced
2-3 Thai bird chilies or other small hot chilies, stemmed and chopped into 3 pieces
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp crushed peppercorns
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp honey
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

Place the chicken drumsticks in a large freezer bag, and add all ingredients through honey to bag. Squish everything in the freezer bag around to mix the marinade and coat the chicken.

Leave the coconut milk marinated chicken in the fridge ideally overnight or out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Take the chicken pieces out of the bag shaking off the excess marinade, and then arrange them in a roasting tin lined with foil.

Drizzle the oil over the chicken and then roast in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until brown, even scorched in parts, and juicily cooked through.

Notes/Results: Very tender, delicious chicken. The kaffir lime flavor came through really well and I liked the spicy/sweet combination from the chilies and the honey. (The chicken was not strongly spicy but had a little kick--you could pump up the spice if you like it hot or omit the chilies if feeding children). I would have liked a bit more lemongrass taste--maybe by adding some dried lemon grass or some lemon zest. I used a free-range, vegetable-fed, non-antibiotic drumstick from Whole Foods and my packet of 10 drumsticks was less than $7.00, making it a great value. I marinated the chicken overnight and it ended up being very moist and juicy. I would make this again with the changes noted above, and I am also thinking of trying a similar adaptation using curry powder in the coconut milk for a more Indian spiced version.

The salad can be found in "Feast" on page 129 or at the New York Times website here.

For the Lemon, Mint & Spinach Salad, Nigella says, "If this recipe looks like there’s nothing much to it, that’s because it’s true. You’re cutting up a lemon, chopping up some mint, and tossing them together with a little oil and some baby spinach leaves which, if you’re like me, you’re just tumbling out of a package. Simplicity itself, but an end result that has satisfying complexity. I love the balance between the gently ferrous tang of the baby spinach, the sour juiciness of the lemon, and mint, that often underrated herb which gives both peppery warmth and a cool, cool hit at the same time."

Lemon, Mint & Spinach Salad
"Feast" by Nigella Lawson
(Serves 8)

1 largeish lemon
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves, plus extra for the top
1/2 tablespoon sea salt
8oz/10 cups baby spinach leaves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Cut off the top and bottom of a lemon, stand it on a wooden board and, cutting down with a small sharp knife, slice off the skin and pith, rotating the fruit until you come full circle. Cut the lemon flesh into ¼ in circles and then each circle into eighths, putting them – and all juice – into a bowl as you go. In other words, you want the lemon in small chunks.

Cut the mint leaves, with scissors for ease, into thin strips over the lemon pieces, and sprinkle over the salt and some pepper. Add the spinach leaves and oil and toss everything together with your hands. Now decant on to a large round or oval plate – or whatever you want to serve this on – and drop a few whole mint leaves over the dressed salad.

Notes/Results: This is a great, simple salad with wonderful flavor. It goes together quickly and the combination of the mint and lemon really livens up the spinach. I was concerned that it might be too sour, but it wasn't at all. It's a light salad and worked well as a side dish, but could also be fun as a main dish salad with shrimp or chicken and a few extra ingredients. I just made a small amount with 1/2 of a large bag of spinach, half a lemon and 1/4 cup of mint. I will make this again.

Two Nigella recipe successes. You can see what the other IHCC participants brought to the potluck by going to the site here and following the links.

Happy Aloha Friday!


  1. love the adaptation! everything looks delicious!

  2. To be fair, I think coconut milk is way better than buttermilk. And I much prefer Thai flavors to...well...almost any others. this looks delicious, I love your interpretation!

  3. DElicious...would love to try this by NL...the combi is super:-)))

  4. Mmm, the whole meal is calling my name! Delicious. I love Thai flavours and am never without a tub of baby spinach. I can't wait til the mint is up in the garden!

  5. That chicken looks so perfect! What a wonderful colour you've got on it - very appetising! The salad looks very good too.

  6. What a mini feast this must have been. I love the way your chicken sounds but the mint salad has stolen my heart. I just love the play on mint and lemon.

  7. I love your creative changes to this recipe. The drumsticks look fabulous and my family loves them. Even though I have a mint plant, I don't use it as an ingredient often. That salad looks perfect.

  8. Kat--mahalo!

    Joanne--I think coconut milk is one of my favorite ingredients. ;-)


    Natashya--hope your mint comes up soon--it really is nice with the spinach. ;-)

    Foodycat--thanks! 30 minutes in the oven and it was perfect.;-)

    Mary--a healthy mini feast! ;-) I love the combo of lemon and mint too.

    Laurie--thanks! I love mint. in fact it will be in my sipper post tomorrow too. ;-)

  9. That lemon mint and spinach salad sounds so wonderful. I never think of mint and spinach being together, but it sure did look good!

  10. Deb, this looks great - I love the way you have reinterpreted this and come up with something that I'm sure is even better than the original. Salad looks divine too. You've inspired me to go over and join the I Heart Cooking Club now.

  11. I love how you adapted the chicken recipe. Those chicken legs looks so moist and inviting! The lemon mint and spinach salad sounds so refreshing and the pictures are so vibrant and pretty! The two dishes pair together beautifully.

  12. Stella--Thanks! The combination really worked well--simple but delicious. ;-)

    Sue--Thank you! I am so glad you'll be joining us at IHCC--it will be fun to have you.

    Kim--Mahalo! I don't know if it was the coconut milk but the chicken was amazingly moist!

  13. It sounds wonderful. I actually looked at the buttermilk recipe and was thinking about it with chicken breasts (the family isn't fond of dark meat). Changing it up with the coconut milk sounds great! It looks great!

  14. Beautiful. This all looks so fresh and yummy! Great photos!

  15. All the wonderful photos and meals you post make me want to live next door to you! I'd always be there with a plate. Great post Deb!

  16. loneilteaches--Thanks! I am sure it would work great with the chicken breasts too.

    Lea Ann--thank you!

    Pierce--and you would be welcome any time! ;-)

  17. That lemon mint and spinach salad sounds so wonderful. I never think of mint and spinach being together, but it sure did look good!

  18. I'm cooking it right now. I had to make a couple of substitutions. But, they are looking great!


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