It’s a miracle this meal ever got made.

The night I made this meal followed a 24-hour period in which I got a flat, tried to fix it, couldn’t, tried to put on the spare, couldn’t, learned that my rims are too cool for school and for most regular tire tools, had my car towed, called my insurance company several times, and paid an ungodly amount of money for a whole new set of tires. I also had my busiest day at work yet.

So what I wanted to do was order pizza, have too many beers, and feel sorry for myself. I was trying not to feel like my trip to the grocery store to obtain the ingredients for tonight’s meal had somehow caused my flat tire. After all, it was the first time I’d bought curry paste, and my first flat since high school. There must be a cosmic connection.

But I’m just too smart for that, so I cooked this meal anyway. (Actually, I’m pretty sure the red curry paste caused the flat, but it was worth it.)

If I were to do this again, I would cook the chicken the Julia way. The Cook’s Illustrated way is very specific and probably very good, but I’m more comfortable with the traditional saute method and I find it more forgiving. The recipe adaptation below reflects this change, but if you’re curious, Cook’s Illustrated sautees the chicken skin-side-down for about 6 minutes, flips it, adds 3/4 cup chicken broth,and ┬ácovers for 15 minutes. It then has you remove the chicken, pour the broth into a container, and cook the chicken another 8 or so minutes, skin down. The chicken was, admittedly, very moist and flavorful, but I burned the skin before the chicken was done, so I’ll stick to what I know.

I’ll also warn you: the sauce smells weird while it’s cooking. It’s something about the strong flavors, the sugar, and the acid, but it doesn’t smell appetizing until it’s reduced quite a bit. It smells… funny. But then it cooks down and things start to mellow, and it turns into this complex, fresh, and utterly unique sauce. Just trust the process and wait for it to smell good.

I’m glad I didn’t order pizza.

Chicken with Spicy Thai Sauce
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated (you need a subscription to access this recipe)
Serves 2
Note: This is excellent with cilantro-lime rice, coming soon!

You will need:
4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
3 tbsp. lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/4 c. light brown sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. red curry paste
3/4 c. chicken broth
2 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a skillet on medium-high until the oil shimmers. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Add chicken to skillet, skin-side-down, and cook about 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Flip chicken and cover pan. Cook, shaking occasionally, about 15 minutes. Check for doneness (Thighs should be about 165 degrees in the thickest part, if you actually take your chicken’s temperature. I don’t, and will someday get salmonella, but you should.) and remove chicken from pan. Keep warm either in oven or by tenting with foil.

Add 2 tbsp. lime juice, sugar, garlic, fish sauce, and red curry paste to the hot pan. Cook, stirring constantly, until a spoon dragged through the sauce leaves a thick trail. Add the chicken broth and reduce to about 1/2 c. Remove from heat and stir in remaining lime juice and cilantro.

Pour sauce around chicken and serve immediately.

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