This comforting one-pot meal comes to us by way of Brooklyn-based chef Pierre Thiam’s latest homage to his native birthplace, Senegal: Modern Senegalese Recipes from the Source to the Bowl. Inspired by the popular chicken and rice dish, thiebou guinaar, this version marries together the rich cultural influences that define Senegalese cuisine, stemming back to former Portuguese and French occupations, as well as the influx of Vietnamese immigrants to this coastal West African country.
Pierre says that to cook the rice, he substituted coconut milk and red palm oil for traditional chicken stock, resulting in a subtler, more nuanced flavor that rounds out the dish nicely. Then just before serving, he suggests generously topping the dish with cilantro and squeezing fresh lime juice for accent.
Senegalese Chicken with Red Palm Coconut Rice
Recipe by Pierre Thiam with Jennifer Sit
8 chicken thighs, skin-on, bone-in (about 2 lbs total)
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 cups jasmine rice
1½ cups full-fat coconut milk
1½ cups chicken stock
2 tbsp red palm oil or vegetable oil
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped (or more to taste)
Juice of 1 lime
Sautéed greens, for serving
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. In a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven with a heavy lid, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When hot, working in batches if necessary, sear the chicken thighs very well, skin-side first, until the skins turn a nice golden color (about 5 minutes), before turning once and browning the other side. Remove from pot and set aside on a platter.
Discard all but 1-tablespoon of rendered chicken fat. Add the onions and sautée, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until soft and slightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and rice and stir to coat the rice well. Add the coconut milk and chicken stock and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reducing heat to a simmer, and stir in the red palm oil. Season with 1-teaspoon of salt and 1-teaspoon of pepper.
Return the chicken thighs and any juices to the pot, placing them on top of the rice, and cover. Simmer for 25–30 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. The rice should be tender, and the chicken fully cooked through.
When you’re ready to serve, squeeze lime juice all over the chicken and rice and generously top with cilantro. Serve together with a side of greens.