Dr. B is famous for his curry, which he cobbled together from friends' recipes, the ladies at the Asian market, and his own guesstimates. It's warm, yummy and comforting, and never the same twice. We'll attempt to give you the recipe, but know that it's always a matter of trial and error, your mood, what you have in the house or what was available at the store, and pure luck. The measurements are approximate at best. But it's good. Oh yeah, it's really good. (Hint: Wear your fat pants. You're gonna want seconds.)
Dr. B's Sorta-Thai Curry Chicken
* 1 1/2 cups pearl barley (you can make more if you like, or use brown rice, but we love the barley texture with this dish)
* 16 oz. chicken broth (or amount needed for your barley)
* 1 T. butter
* 1-2 lb chicken breast or thighs cut in bite-sized pieces
* 1-2 cans coconut milk (DO NOT health out and get the low fat. It fails every time. Our favorite brand is Roland, but that's not easy to find, unless you live in Madison. The Goya brand works OK, and is readily available. )
* 1-2 "thumbs" (thumb size pieces) Maesri curry paste (we like the red, and the panang is good too but the red is better. Panang is much milder. If the directions on the package say use a lot more, ignore them.)
* 1-2 T. Fish Sauce (I know it smells like dirty feet. THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL. Your curry will not be right without it. And don't tell me you made it without it and it came out just fine. If you did, you didn't make Dr. B's curry. You made a wimpy no fish sauce version and it just wasn't the same.)
* 3 cups or so peeled butternut squash that has been cut in bite size pieces
* 1/2 cup raisins (we've tried currants and golden raisins, but they just aren't as good as the regular old Sunsweets.)
* Planter's Dry Roasted Peanuts (you want the ones with the salty coating--you'll use several handfuls)
* lime wedges
Optional ingredients, for when you're feeling frisky: natural peanut butter (1-2 T should do it), sliced scallions, honey (especially if it's too spicy), regular onion or shallots, zucchini, peas, eggplant (just keep an eye on the texture as those can water it down a lot.) Whatever you like.
OK. Now to get to it.
Start cooking the barley, according to package directions (total time: 45 minutes--don't get the instant stuff), except substitute chicken broth for water. (We tried with water. It really took away from the flavor of the whole dish. Spring for the chicken broth.) The butter goes in at the end, so don't put that in yet.
When the barley has been going for about 15 of the 45 minutes, heat about 1/2 the coconut milk in a large nonstick pan (that has a cover) until it just starts to boil. Add the curry paste, and mix it in until it's all blended. Add the remaining coconut milk and the raw chicken. Cook over medium high heat about 10 minutes, until the chicken is getting cooked but not done yet.
Add the butternut squash pieces, raisins and some of the peanuts if you like. This is also when you can add some of your "getting frisky" items. Don't add too many at once if you're adding a lot, because you don't want the temperature to go way down fast. (Add a little at a time, if you want to add several items.) Stir, cover and cook another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the fish sauce and continue cooking, covered, until the squash is tender and the chicken is cooked through, about another 10 minutes.
When the barley is done, stir in the pat of butter. Spoon some barley into each serving bowl, top with the chicken curry. Garnish with more peanuts, cilantro, and a wedge of lime. Serve with cold beer.