Sunday, May 19, 2013

Toasted-Coconut Curry Chicken Salad

CaveBoy bought me an awesome picnic basket when we first got married. It looks just like this one only better, because it also has adorable plates and cups that fit right inside. We've used it a handful of times. Once (back in the old-days) I brought fried chicken and fruit punch out to the rifle range for CaveBoy and his buddy Duke, when they were teaching a week-long class in the 109 degree Texas heat.

We've also used it to shuttle Paleo goodies to our CrossFit gym for summer-time-Friday-night grill-outs. And I've used it to bring breakfast to the pool on Saturday mornings, to celebrate my friends' first CrossFit workouts (because I'm that good of a friend).

But we've never used it for a real sit-in-the-grass-on-a-blanket-in-nature picnic.

That's going to change. This Summer.

One of my goals for the next four months is to spend more time outside, and therefor outside my cubicle. Working all the time is well-and-good when it's dark and cold. But when the weather turns warm and sunny, it's time to ditch the supplements and make some vitamin D the old-fashioned way. It's just better for morale.

This Toasted-Coconut Curry Chicken Salad is the perfect picnic treat. It's spicy and creamy, and keeps well in the back of a pick-up truck headed into the wilderness. It goes great with grapes and watermelon, and other picnic-appropriate fruit. It scoops up easily with celery sticks and plantain chips. Overall, it's the perfect picnic dish.

Don't believe me? Try it and let me know what you think in the comments.

Toasted-Coconut Curry Chicken Salad

See. I'm learning. This time the side dish isn't the same color and texture as the main dish.
It only took me 10 months to figure that out. It still looks like a pile of mush, tho.
That might just be my trademark.


1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 yellow onions, diced
1 head of celery, diced
1 cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
1 can coconut milk
3 tablespoons coconut oil
3 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
Garlic Powder
Poultry Seasoning


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken breasts and thighs in two separate baking dishes. They have different cooking times, so separating them in the beginning makes things easier (You also could use 3 lbs of breasts or 3 lbs of thighs, instead of a mixture. I like my chicken salad to have both dark and light meat). Season the chicken liberally with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, and poultry seasoning. Bake at 400 degrees until cooked through. For the thighs, about 15 minutes, for the breasts about 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and let cool.

While the chicken is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a large skillet. Add diced onion and celery. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook onion and celery until tender, stirring frequently. Let cool in pan.

In a separate skillet, heat 2 tablespoons coconut oil. Add shredded coconut. Stir to combine then continue to stir frequently. Once the coconut begins to toast, stir almost constantly to prevent burning. When the coconut is a golden brown, remove pan from heat to prevent burning. Let cool.

Once the chicken is cooked, allow it to cool enough to touch. Shred or cube the chicken (I prefer to toss the chicken into my Kitchen Aid mixer, and let the paddle attachment shred the meat for me, it takes less than a minute).  Combine light and dark meat in a large dish. Add the veggies and coconut to the chicken.

For the curry sauce, in a medium bowl, add the can of coconut milk, 3 1/2 tablespoons of curry powder, and a big pinch of salt. Whisk to combine.

Pour sauce over the chicken mixture, and stir to combine. Refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving. This will help the coconut milk sauce to tighten up and the flavors to harmonize. Makes 8 servings.

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