Last week, I was surprised by a dear friend of mine with several items of meat. Dodgy as this may sound, there was a very reasonably explanation. She was moving out of her flat that day, and in the messy process of unplugging kitchen appliances, someone or other (let’s not name names) had accidentally unplugged the freezer along with the microwave. Several kilos of meat were instantly turned into a kind of emergency, because you cannot refreeze something you have already frozen once before, and there was no way in hell that she was going to get through all of this meat on her own within the few days that it would last.
I usually don’t buy meat. I have a healthy distrust of intensive farming. For several reasons, one of which being that that’s where animals get fed antibiotics as food. Obviously, rendering antibiotics useless by creating new, resistant bacteria through overuse, that’s just asking for trouble, ask any zombie apocalypse film maker. Apart from that I feel sad for the animals that never even get near a meadow, let alone are set loose in one, in their whole sad existence. I don’t want to eat that kind of meat. But biological meat is too expensive, so the alternative usually is not eating meat at all.
Which is fine! Because it turns the rare occasions on which I do eat meat into sacred events of mythological proportions. Whilst preparing my carnivorous dinner, I have visions of Aeneas and Achates slaying seven deer on the beach, of Odysseus’ crew raiding Helios’ cattle, the sprinkling of barley, the pouring of wine, the burning of fat and thigh bones in sacrificial fires, in short, the preparations for feasts worthy of the gods! In my world, a chicken breast is no longer a piece of dead animal, it’s a shiny bar of pinkish-white gold. And there’s only one suitable destination for pinkish-white gold: peanut butter chicken curry, which, funnily enough, I usually make with no meat at all, but with pumpkin instead of chicken, and added sweet potato.
Please don’t be put off by the peanut butter, it’s good. The concept is similar to the Thai massaman curry, which also uses peanuts and coconut milk. Do make sure you don’t get a brand that sweetens its peanut butter too much, it has to be on the savoury side. With chunks is best. If you use smooth, get some monkey nuts, peel them yourself, stick them in a food processor for a couple of seconds, then roast in a frying pan with no oil.
For two you will need:
- enough chicken
- a generous tbsp red Thai curry paste
- a tbsp of chunky peanut butter
- half to 3/4 tin of coconut milk
- an onion
- a carrot
- a tomato
- a fairly sized potato
- if you think curry paste by itself is not enough, add garlic, chili and fresh ginger to taste
- fresh coriander and lime, to serve
Chop up the optional garlic, chili and fresh ginger, cut the onion in bits and stick them in a wok with some oil. Add the curry paste and the peanut butter, stir. You might have to add some water if your curry paste starts to stick to your wok.
Peel the potato, cut into dice and boil in a separate pan (and if you’re making the vegetarian version, add the sweet potato, too). Cut the chicken into dice or strips and add them to the pan (or, for the veggies, peel and chop the pumpkin and stick it in the pan). Do the same to the carrot. Slice the tomato in half, remove the seeds, chop up and add. Then stir, mix well, and add the coconut milk. Leave to simmer.
Once the potato is done, drain and add the chunks to the curry.
Serve with white rice, fresh coriander and please, please do squeeze over a bit of lime juice because it makes all the difference.