• A Chicken Dinner Winner

    June 22, 2017
    Kuku paka (chicken with coconut).

    Meredith Heuer for The New York Times
    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 21, 2017

    A Chicken Dinner Winner

    Good morning. Tejal Rao is just back from Kenya with an arresting story about kuku paka (above), a coconut-chicken dish from Mombasa that is made all over the country in home kitchens and restaurants, though rarely the same way. The chicken might be grilled or steamed, fried or braised. It could be spicy. It might be mild. The only constant to kuku paka, Tejal says, is that the dish be “a love letter to coconut, its fat and its sweetness, the way that it can make so many other flavors shine without losing its own.”

    I love a dish like that, where you can ask a dozen people how to make it and receive a dozen different answers in return. You see it with chicken adobo, from the Philippines. It’s true of Texas chili and New England clam chowder, as well, and of gumbo and cornbread. Maybe your grandmother made those dishes differently than we do, or you do. That’s O.K. You can get to delicious in a thousand ways.

    So see what you make of Tejal’s recipe for kuku paka. Marinate a bunch of chicken legs and thighs tonight, and you can make the sauce for them tomorrow. Tejal wants you to grill the chicken. Of course, you can broil it, if you can’t grill. That’s the point of kuku paka. You could fry it, if you wanted to.

    If you don’t want to, if you don’t eat birds, take a look at Julia Reed’s awesome, kinda transgressive recipe for summer-squash casserole, see if that doesn’t appeal. Consider our adaptation of Jamie Oliver’s healthyish recipe for eggplant parm.

    And definitely consider Julia Moskin’s recipe for big salad with grains. It’s as much a narrative nonrecipe as it is specific instruction, and thus perfect for our Wednesday tradition here of cooking without recipes. Give it a try.

    Tomorrow night, you can go back on the book. Make Mark Bittman’s recipe for cod and potatoes and revel in its deliciousness. And then, on Friday, you can ring in the weekend with my recipe for Jim Harrison’s Caribbean stew, which calls for a lot of different meats but does not require them. You could omit a few and still be very happy. Or add a couple! It’s a very forgiving meal.

    Thousands and thousands more recipes are on Cooking. Go take a look. Send the ones you’re interested in to family or friends, for review, and save the ones you want to cook to your recipe box, so you can find them later. (You can, by the way, save recipes from anywhere on the internet to your recipe box, should you find one out there that you like. Here’s how to do that.) Then rate your recipes. And leave notes on them, for yourself or for everyone to see. We cherish helpful readers here.

    And we try to be helpful ourselves. If you run into particular trouble with a recipe or with our site or apps, just reach out to cookingcare@nytimes.com. We’ll take care of it.

    Now, have you caught up with “Downward Dog,” on ABC? It’s about a woman and her dog, Martin. Martin is the show’s narrator. Which works, but Margaret Lyons explains the talking dog thing better than I can, on Watching.

    Check out this National Geographic spread on Saudi weddings, which are, in the magazine’s telling, both elaborate and strange.

    And please read Mary Pols’s story out of Canaan, Me., in the Portland Press Herald, on the death of a dairyman and trucker named Richard “Butch” Clark. It’s pretty great. See you on Friday.

    Zachary Zavislak for The New York Times
    2 hours, plus 2 hours’ refrigeration, 4 servings
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    This chili is an amalgam of recipes, with chocolate and coffee added for complexity and hot sauce for kick.

    Evan Sung for The New York Times
    About 2 hours 30 minutes, 4 to 6 servings (about 8 cups)
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    Sarah Anne Ward for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Pamela Duncan Silver.
    1 hour, 8 to 10 servings
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    Danny Ghitis for The New York Times
    1 hour 15 minutes, 6 to 8 servings
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    The Kenyan dish kuku paka seems simple enough: chicken on the bone, in a sauce of spiced coconut milk. But you'll find it cooked a number of ways across the country, and beyond.

    Meredith Heuer for The New York Times
    1 hour, plus marinating, 6 servings
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    Sam Sifton makes a squash casserole that is the perfect accompaniment to a grilled chicken or weekend roast.

    Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times
    About 1 hour, 8 to 10 servings
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    Craig Lee for The New York Times
    1 hour 45 minutes, 4 to 5 servings
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    Karsten Moran for The New York Times
    10 minutes, 1 serving
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    Craig Lee for The New York Times
    1 hour, 4 servings
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    Jim Harrison's Caribbean stew.

    Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Amy Wilson.
    2 hours, 4 to 6 servings
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