tom kha gai

coconut lime braised chicken thighs

Why hello there old friend! Long time no see!

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Being a food blogger and working full time for a kitchenware retailer basically means that from November to January I’m a busy little bee. With Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s coming one right after the other, I don’t have a second to even pick my nose for two whole months.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

This holiday season officially kicked my over-padded butt, so with the coming of the new year and the official end of the holiday season, I decided to take a brief but much needed and well deserved break.

I hope you were able to find some way to manage in my absence.
You knew I’d be back eventually, didn’t you?

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Here we are mid-January now, and things are finally feeling like they’re back to normal. In more ways than one…

Up until very recently, this “winter” has been unseasonably (and disconcertingly) warm here in Brooklyn. The day that Russell and I bought our baby little Christmas tree we passed blooming cherry trees as we carried it home. We had the windows open to enjoy the warm weather on Christmas day, but once I put the pork roast into the oven we were all fanning ourselves and dripping sweat. On New Year’s eve the begonias and impatiens in my back yard, and the rose bushes planted in front of work, were all blooming big and bright in stark contrast to the brown bare branches of Brooklyn’s trees.

Winter weather has finally caught up with us though, and the backyard is finally looking as brown and barren as it’s supposed to this time of year. Temperatures have finally begun dipping below freezing, and a few days ago winter winds knocked over the grill in my backyard as if to say, “Take that warm weather!” I even heard on the news this morning that we may soon see our first snow flakes in the next day or two.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

With Winter’s frigid temperatures finally catching up to us, I’ve had a hankering for some rich and satisfying comfort food.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Chicken thighs are one of my ultimate favorite comfort foods. I’ve made lots and lots and LOTS of chicken thigh recipes over the years, and for good reason. They’re rich and flavorful and satisfying. They have way more flavor than chicken breast, and unlike breasts, thighs are almost impossible to overcook to the point where they dry out. As if that ain’t enough, they’re also significantly more affordable than breast meat.

While I’ve roasted ’em, seared ’em, and even grilled ’em, my favorite thing to do with chicken thighs is to braise them.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Normally I like to go for classic flavors like white wine and chicken stock, but this sudden onset of cold weather had me craving something more tropical. After a bit of thought I decided to try braising my beloved chicken things in bright Southeast Asian flavors like coconut, lime, ginger, and chili sauce.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

I was craving something rich and hearty and satisfying, and this chicken does not disappoint.

The coconut milk adds a perfect creaminess without feeling heavy, and the acid of the lime brightens things up and cuts through the richness of the chicken. The fresh ginger, garlic, & sriracha add a gentle heat and a depth of flavor, which is perfectly complimented by the umami saltiness of a bit of soy sauce. After simmering for almost an hour, another squeeze of fresh lime and a heavy handed sprinkle of cilantro and green onion add a summery freshness that’s more than welcome in these chilly winter months.

coconut lime braised chicken thighs | Brooklyn Homemaker

Coconut Lime Braised Chicken Thighs

  • Servings: 4 to 8, depending on size of thighs
  • Print
3 to 4 lbs (about 6 to 8) chicken thighs (bone-in, skin-on)
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 small onion, finely diced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, crushed or very finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha chili sauce
1 cup low sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce (or 1 tablespoon regular soy sauce)
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
zest and juice of 2 limes, separately
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped or torn
1 small bunch green onion, thinly sliced

Season the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper. Let the chicken absorb the seasoning at room temperature for about 30 minutes before proceeding.

Heat coconut oil in a large lidded skillet, braising pan or dutch oven over high heat. Brown for about 5 minutes on both sides, starting with the skin side down first. Depending on the size of your thighs the chicken thighs, you may need to do this in two batches. Remove and transfer to a plate.

A lot of fat will likely render out of the skin, pour all but 1 tablespoon out of the pan. Reduce heat to medium and sauté onions for about three to five minutes, or until soft and translucent but not brown. Stir in garlic, ginger, and Sriracha and sauté for one minute more. Stir in chicken stock, turn heat back up to high, and reduce by at least half, for about five to ten minutes. Stir in soy sauce, coconut milk and zest and juice of one of the limes. Arrange chicken thighs, skin side up, in a single layer. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for half an hour. Remove lid and simmer for fifteen to twenty minutes more.

Stir in cilantro, green onion, and zest and juice of remaining lime. Serve over a bed of white rice or rice noodles, with a ladle of sauce and sprinkle of more fresh cilantro and green onion if desired.

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thai style chicken noodle soup

March is here, which means that winter is finally on it’s way out!

thai style chicken noodle soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

The other day I got off the train after work and looked up to notice the last warm fingers of daylight still touching the tops of the buildings in my neighborhood. I can’t tell you how warm and fuzzy that made me feel after walking home in the dark all winter long.

The days are getting longer, the air is getting (ever so slightly) warmer, and while the snow still seems to keep falling, spring will be here in just a few short weeks.

thai style chicken noodle soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

For now though, it’s still winter. If I ever had any doubt, all I’d have to do is look out my bedroom window to see the blanket of white snow perforated in tight tracks by the paws of little pups.

thai style chicken noodle soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’m no stranger to long winters. I lived in the Adirondacks for my college years, and grew up in Central New York, the land of lake effect snow and highway clogging blizzards.

Winters in the city have always paled in comparison, being more about rain and slush than actual snow accumulation. When I first moved to Brooklyn I would laugh when people complained about winter weather, but after living through more than a few New York City winters, I realize that freezing rain and grey haze are just as depressing and awful as snow that won’t quit piling up.

thai style chicken noodle soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

This winter has been one of the coldest on record here in Brooklyn, and has felt like one of the longest.

I have to admit, I’m over it.
Officially.

thai style chicken noodle soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

The idea for this recipe came from my desire for something warm and homey and satisfying, like old fashioned chicken noodle soup, mixed with my yearning for bright summery flavors that might draw me out of my cold weather funk.

I thought it was worth a shot to try marrying the idea of chicken noodle soup with the flavors of a Thai Tom Kha Gai coconut soup.

thai style chicken noodle soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

Let me tell you, this soup is amazing. It’s rich and satisfying while somehow also feeling light and healthy.

It’s got a mildly sweet tanginess from the acidic lime juice, a nice bright tropical creaminess from the coconut milk, and just a hint of spice from the fresh ginger and sriracha. The chicken thighs and stock add a nice richness and the carrots give it that traditional chicken soup feeling. The torn cilantro and green onion round out the flavor with green summery freshness, and the al dente rice noodles add a nice bit of texture and substance.

All together every bite is a bright vibrant burst of the tropics in the midst of a dreary grey winter.

thai style chicken noodle soup | Brooklyn Homemaker

2 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
4 carrots, thinly sliced into disks
1 1/2 lbs skinless boneless chicken thighs
sea salt to taste
4 cups chicken stock
1 14 oz can coconut milk
juice of 1 to 4 limes *see note
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sriracha
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1/2 cup torn cilantro leaves
6 oz package of rice noodles, softened or cooked according to package

Preheat oil over high heat in a large heavy bottom stockpot. Add garlic & ginger and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Add carrots and cook for 1 minute more. Add chicken thighs and cook for about 3 or 4 minutes. Add chicken stock & salt bring to simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove chicken thighs with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool for 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle. Skim any foam off of the stock. Slice or shred chicken into bite sized pieces. Add the chicken pieces back to the stock along with coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, & sriracha. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Bring just back to a simmer, remove from heat, add scallions and cilantro. Ladle into bowls, serve with a generous handful of rice noodles.

*cooks note: I am crazy for citrus so when I developed this recipe I used the juice of 4 limes. I was thrilled with the flavor and posted the recipe the way I liked it.
Over time, a few readers expressed that it was too much for them and they’d prefer it with less lime if they made it again. I’d suggest you that start with the juice of one lime and give it a taste before deciding if you’d enjoy more.