Yet another cold, wet, miserable evening (we’re having far too many of them, even for this rain-renowned neck of the woods), and I was found standing in the kitchen glaring at a pineapple.
Why was this unfortunate fruit on the receiving end of my evil eye? Well…hmmm… I suppose we should just get this little bit of Bohemian crazy out of the way first – the thing is, it came from a hot place and I was suffering sunshine envy. Ahem!
Moving swiftly on, and more to the point, I’d bought it on an impulse (very, very cheap) despite knowing that I have an inordinately difficult time persuading pineapples to take off their jackets and give me their fruit. At the point of purchase I always tell myself that the deliciousness within will be well worth the effort to obtain; however once at home a reluctance to face the task usually settles in and avoidance becomes the order of the days.
This particular pineapple was at the eat-me-now-or-lose-me-forever stage of ripeness, which meant there was no choice but to prepare myself, and the kitchen, for a hack and chop session with the spiky one.
Quite frankly I find it ridiculous that despite much research and trying of different techniques, I still have not managed to skilfully prepare a fresh pineapple. I waste far too much fruit, both in cutting off the skin and when gouging out all those tedious, bristled eyelets that get left hanging in there. I also seem to end up with juice flowing over cutting board and work surface, running down arms, dripping off elbows, puddling into sticky foot anchors on the floor…it’s a mess!
Granted, the juice thing probably wouldn’t happen if I didn’t wait until one stage prior to rot before tackling it.
The obvious question is, given that I could easily buy a conveniently preprepared pineapple, why do I do it? Stubbornness, in part – I don’t want to admit defeat (imagine: “Of all the culinary challenges, what broke me was a pineapple.” How incredibly sad is that?! 😉 )
Another contributing factor is that fresh tastes so much better than tinned, although in a recipe like this it probably makes little to no difference (let’s refer back to the stubbornness paragraph).
Then, of course, there’s the unwillingness to pay the extortionate price for fresh preprepared pineapple, even if it is saving me some hassle.
The choice is entirely yours as to whether you go with fresh or tinned pineapple – you’ll find no judgement from these quarters.
This dish has quite a long cooking time but doesn’t necessarily need much effort from you; however, do bear in mind that depending on your skills set, preparation time may be affected by aforementioned choice 😉
To serve three (possibly four if you serve it with rice)
2 chicken breast fillets
1 whole fresh pineapple, wrestled from its armoured jacket and cut into chunks
OR just go with a 400g tin of chunks in natural juices
1 medium onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, cut into small chunks
A handful of green beans, trimmed and cut in half
A splosh of oil (sesame oil would be nice but ordinary basic cooking oil will do just fine)
400ml coconut milk
1 chicken stockpot
Tamari (or ordinary soy sauce)
Freshly ground black pepper
For the curry paste
2-3 teaspoons Massaman paste – optional:
I’ve started to use a paste like this as it will be more economical than buying separate shrimp, tamarind and galangal pastes – they tend to go out of date before I can use them up! You may prefer to go completely from scratch, or leave it out altogether. If you leave it out, you’ll have a lovely meal still but it will lack a certain Thai quality!
2-3cm of fresh ginger root, peeled
½-1 teaspoon ground cumin
½-1 teaspoon ground coriander
½-1 teaspoon turmeric
1 small onion, cut into chunks
2-3 garlic cloves
2 kafir lime leaves
A small handful of fresh coriander
1 fresh lime, zest and juice
red chillies – you decide what type, and how many, depending how spicy you want this to be. We used 3 partially de-seeded bird’s eye chillies, which created a pleasant mouth warmth, rather than all out fire breathing.
Ok, got a plan for what you’re going to do while this dish simmers for a couple of hours? Jolly good! Let’s get cracking then…
Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan (one that has a lid), add sliced onions and curry paste and cook over a low to medium heat (lid off) for about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until onion is soft.
Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, pop on the lid and leave to simmer for about 2 hours. Check on it periodically – give it a stir and some appreciative sniffs.
Put around two thirds of the mixture into a food processor and blend until smooth.
Bring back to a simmer and cook with lid off, until chicken pieces are piping hot and cooked all the way through.
Adjust seasoning with tamari and black pepper.