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Curry Melting Pot

A Portuguese chicken curry recipe from Fat Rice
Fat Rice
Coconut milk sweetens and thickens this mild curry.

Before landing on the menu at Chicago's Fat Rice, Abraham Conlon's chorizo-and-chicken curry, aka po kok gai, made its mark halfway around the world in Macau, a former Portuguese colony and now a part of China. Mild and slightly sweet thanks to coconut milk, the chicken-thigh curry has a bright layer of flavor from tomatoes, olives and lemon juice. Conlon's goal at Fat Rice is to reinvigorate Chinese- and Portuguese-influenced Macanese cuisine--and with this recipe, the revolution now comes to the home kitchen.

Portuguese Chicken Curry with Chorizo and Olives

Recipe adapted from Abraham Conlon, Fat Rice, Chicago

Yield: 6 servings

Cook Time: 1 hour 5 minutes


3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut flakes

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 1½ pounds)

2 teaspoons kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 large Spanish onion, halved and thinly sliced

One 1-inch piece fresh ginger (use the edge of a teaspoon to scrape off the skin), finely chopped

1 tablespoon Madras curry powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3½ cups coconut milk 

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (about 1½ pounds), peeled and coarsely chopped

10 cherry tomatoes, halved

4 ounces dry-cured Spanish chorizo, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds

12 oil-cured black olives, pitted (preferably Moroccan olives)

1 small bunch flat-leaf parsley, stems removed and leaves roughly chopped

1 lemon, sliced into 6 wedges

Steamed white rice, for serving


1. Preheat the oven to 350°. On a baking sheet, spread the coconut flakes in an even layer and toast until the coconut is lightly golden and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside to cool.

2. Place the chicken thighs on a plate and pat dry with paper towels. Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Sprinkle the cornstarch on a plate and dredge the thighs in the cornstarch, patting the cornstarch onto both sides of the chicken to coat it evenly.

3. In a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat, add 1½ tablespoons of the oil and heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the chicken and cook, without moving, until lightly browned on one side, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the thighs over and cook until the other side is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

4. In the same Dutch oven set over medium heat, add the remaining 1½ tablespoons of oil, the onion and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add the curry powder and the cayenne and cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour in the coconut milk and stir to combine. Add the potatoes and the reserved chicken thighs and bring the liquid to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Continue to cook until the chicken thighs and potatoes are cooked through and the sauce is thick, about 50 minutes.

5. Remove the lid from the pot and stir in the tomatoes, chorizo and olives. Cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Divide the curry among 6 plates and serve sprinkled with the toasted coconut, chopped parsley and lemon wedges, with the rice on the side.

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