Although I generally like reading cookbooks, I don’t really like cooking from cookbooks. That’s mostly because I’m usually too lazy-slash-ADHD to follow directions in recipes. Plus, when I say I like to read cookbooks, I mean I like to look at the pictures. Because pictures of food are purty.

For this year’s Busy-Lazy Family Christmas Eve dinner, I wanted to make something that required as few ingredients—and as few steps—as possible. So I made opor ayam, an Indonesian coconut chicken and rice dish. It’s really easy to make. I’ve made it even easier than the original recipe by cooking everything in a single pot:

  1. In a cast iron dutch oven, saute (in a tablespoon of oil) one diced onion and four cloves of minced garlic until lightly browned, about five minutes.
  2. Add one teaspoon (or more) of ground coriander, half a teaspoon of tumeric, a dash of ground ginger, a dash of cayenne, and a thumbnail-sized nub of shrimp paste. Mix the onion and garlic with the spices for two minutes or so, until well-blended. N.B.: The shrimp paste is going to make your kitchen smell like old gym socks and rotting seafood, but if you can get past that, your patience will be rewarded because shrimp paste imparts a delicious (but not especially pungent) complexity to this Indonesian dish that can’t be achieved with any other ingredient. 
  3. Add salt and peppered chicken thighs to the pot, skin-side down first. Once the chicken is browned, about eight minutes, turn it over and cook some more.
  4. Add two cans of coconut milk, plus half a cup of water, and stir.
  5. Add one and a half cups of uncooked rice (I used arborio rice tonight).
  6. Add two cinnamon sticks.
  7. Stir the whole thing together. Cover with a lid, and simmer over medium heat for 40 minutes or so.
  8. Make sure to stir and check the rice every so often to make sure that the rice cooks evenly and doesn’t scorch.
  9. Before serving, top the chicken with sauteed mushrooms (I used shiitake mushrooms), and top the rice with fried shallots.
  10. Voila! Indonesian one-pot coconut chicken and rice. Yum!

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