So you’d think I would know better by now. I should, really. That after all these years, my routine hasn’t changed. It’s pretty simple. And yet, sometimes, yes sometimes, the kids come home from school and there is no dinner. “Why not?” you may ask. Why not, indeed. I have no answer. I have no idea where the day went, and I feel really bad about the whole thing. But that doesn’t help put dinner on the table, does it?
They stand there, staring at me. Really? Did you think we weren’t going to be hungry? I stare back. I just don’t know what to say. I kind of wait for them to volunteer to make pizza, or eat cereal. And yet they just stand there. I sigh, and open the freezer. O.K., I can still defrost some chicken and do something with it. “Just give me a few minutes,” I smile sheepishly. Some eye-rolling ensues and the kids march upstairs and start to do their homework, and I start to do mine. (I guess I will get a D for investment in learning.) Anyway, as the chicken defrosts in the microwave, I start to run through some possibilities in my head. It has got to be simple, and it has got to be quick. I’ve already grilled chicken a hundred times this month. In the pan, on the grill, on the grill again. There’s only so many things you can do with it. Braising! That’s quick and different. And saucy.
I start with an onion. That always smells like the promise of good food. A little of this, a little of that. Less than an hour later (yes, they waited), they look in the pan and are shocked, amazed and astounded. “That looks great!” they exclaim. I make a whole production out of tasting the sauce, adding some salt, some chopped parsley (what’s more impressive than chopped parsley?) and declare dinner is ready. I shrug my shoulders, as if that has been my plan the whole time. They are duly impressed, enough not to comment about my lapse in the use of my day, and dig in. Whew. And when the chicken is all gone, they look longingly at the leftover sauce and ask if we could save it to use for something else. I guess the late and last-minute dinner is a success, and we won’t talk about the incident ever.
Chicken Thighs in Curry Tomato Sauce
2 onions, halved and sliced
2-3 tablespoons oil
3-4 pounds boneless chicken thighs
2 14-ounce cans diced tomato
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup coconut milk
¼ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup chopped parsley
Heat oil in a 12-14-inch skillet, and add sliced onions. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, until onions soften and begin to brown. Push onions aside and add chicken, browning each side for a minute or two. Add diced tomatoes (with the juice), tomato paste and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, and lower to simmer. Add turmeric, curry and salt. Simmer for as much time as you have (at least 30-40 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. The longer it sits, the thicker and more delicious the sauce will become! Finish by adding in the parsley. Serve over a bed of rice or quinoa, and smile for a job well done!
By Rachel Berger