panang chicken curry | feeding a crowd

Wagga has seen scorching temperatures of above 40℃ over the past week. And I’m forever grateful that we’ve escaped the heat – spending the school holidays at Mum and Dad’s beach house in Culburra (on the NSW south coast). Our days have been spent swimming, building sandcastles, eating ice cream, drinking coffee (before beer o’clock rolls round) and of course going on many grocery shopping trips and spending countless hours in the kitchen.

I’m aways looking for recipes that can easily feed a crowd. Being one of 5 kids and part of a very close knit and rapidly growing family (cannot wait to meet baby Rose in the coming weeks) there always seem to be loads of mouths to feed. If one thing is certain, it’s that we never go home hungry after a stay at Burralong*.

Breakies consist of big bacon and egg fry ups; hot BBQ chooks and fresh bread rolls go down well for lunch; cold watermelon’s on tap and the pizza oven gets a good work out. As well as going to the bowlo for a cheeky schnitty and having fish and chips on the beach, I like to mix things up a bit come dinner time. This tasty Panang chicken curry is a real crowd pleaser. So easy to make, it’s the perfect meal to whip up on those long summer nights where you just want to load up a bowl, grab a drink and plonk yourself down somewhere comfy. On those nights where you want to settle in for a few yarns, that more often than not, carry on well in to the night.

Made with store bought Panang curry paste, you won’t need any fancy food processors or spice blenders here and it’s cooked simply on the stove in any large saucepan (that you can generally dig out of a corner cupboard in most holiday houses). Panang chicken is my Mum’s favourite food on the planet and as a thank you for all of her help with my girlies this past week, I made this for her (making sure there were plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day).

Woollies sell large packs of chicken thigh fillets – normally about 1.5 kilos worth. All other ingredients can be found in most supermarkets and the curry can be made ahead of time which gives the flavours a chance to develop. So throw it on the day before you have friends coming round for dinner.

The curry also freezes really well. It’s a great one to divvy up in to Tupperware containers for those busy weeknights when there’s no time to cook. Use any veggies you like and make the curry as hot or mild depending on your taste buds (just add more or less curry paste). Delicious, easy and comforting, take the stress out of entertaining and make this much loved Thai favourite today.

Now I’m off to the beach for a dip and then home to answer the biggest question of the day… what’s for dinner tonight?

*Burralong – a combination of Culburra and Tomalong (our family home in Kenthurst, Sydney). 

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panang chicken curry
(feeds 6-8 adults)

1.5 kilos of boneless chicken thigh fillets, fat removed and diced
1 x large Spanish onion, peeled and chopped into thin wedges
3 x large cloves of garlic, crushed
2-3 heaped tablespoons of Panang curry paste
6 x kaffir lime leaves* (4 torn leaves for putting into the curry and 2 finely sliced for serving)
1 x heaped dessertspoon of peanut butter
1 x 400 ml tin of coconut milk
1 x tablespoon of fish sauce
1 x tablespoon of sugar
1 x chicken stock cube, dissolved in 1 x cup of water
A good splash of vegetable oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
1 x small sweet potato, peeled and chopped into small chunks
2 x carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 x red capsicum, cut into strips
A good handful of green beans, ends removed and cut into thirds
The juice of one lime, plus extra wedges to serve
Fresh coriander, to serve
Fresh chilli, to serve
Crushed peanuts, to serve
Steamed jasmine rice**, to serve (I normally cook two coffee mugs worth of jasmine rice for this recipe)

*A note on kaffir lime leaves: These can be bought from Woolies and kept in the freezer until needed. When tearing the kaffir lime leaves to throw in to the curry – first discard the woody stems. When preparing the kaffir lime leaves for the garnish, roll them tightly into a cigar shape and very carefully slice them as finely as possible. 
**A note on rice: I use 1 x cup of Jasmine rice to 1 1/2 cups of water. Using a medium saucepan, bring to the boil, then back the heat off to a slow simmer and let it do its thing for 8 minutes or until nice and fluffy. 

  • In a large saucepan add a glug of vegetable oil and in batches, brown the chicken. Season with salt and pepper here and reserve the cooked chicken onto a clean plate.
  • Adding a touch more oil if needed, sauté the onion and garlic until soft.
  • Add the curry paste and the torn kaffir lime leaves and stir around coating the onion in the spices, until fragrant.
  • Add the peanut butter and stir to combine.
  • Next, add the coconut milk, fish sauce, sugar, chicken stock and bring to the boil.
  • Return the chicken to the pan, stir, and turn the heat down to a very low simmer – placing the lid on.
  • Cook for at least 45 minutes (I like to cook it for a little longer so that the chicken becomes really soft and falls apart).
  • Add the sweet potato and continue to cook for another 15 minutes or until it’s nice and soft.
  • Add the carrots, capsicum and green beans and cook until these veggies are cooked to your liking (I don’t like them getting too soft).
  • Add the lime juice and taste for seasoning.
  • Serve with the steamed rice and garnish with the coriander, chilli, crushed peanuts and lime wedges.

Enjoy!

Lo’s tips

  • Taste as you go when cooking this curry. Adjust the sugar, fish sauce and lime juice to make sure that you’re happy with the balance of flavours. If you feel that the dish is too spicy – make sure you have another tin of coconut milk on hand to soften the blow.
  • Although I find Thai curries quite easy to make, I find it hard knowing how much curry paste to add as every brand is different and some are hotter than others. I love chilli and always tend to make things too spicy! So if you’re making this for a crowd, go easy on the amount of spice paste you fry off and instead, have extra chilli to serve. Fresh chilli, chilli sauce and chilli flakes all work well.
  • Use whatever veggies you like here. Pumpkin, frozen peas, lemon squash, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, baby corn, broccolini and asparagus would all work well.

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If you make this Panang chicken curry, please leave your comments below. xx

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