When I make Thai curry paste I always try to make extra and freeze it. Except for the making of the paste, Thai curries are ridiculously simple, and there is something so indulgent and wonderful about being able to just grab some paste and whip up a really tasty curry. I do try not to keep the paste for too long, maybe 6 months tops (which is short by my standards since I tend to lose things in the freezer).
Anyway you may or may not remember the chicken satay I made back in August, which uses a Massaman curry paste. I froze extra, waiting for the weather to get colder because I was certain that Massaman curry would make the best braise ever.
And I was right. This is succulent, rich, spicy… it will make the non-braised Massaman curries you’ve had pale in comparison. (I actually had the idea because I was served a Massaman braise at a Thai restaurant once, so the idea certainly does not originate with me.) You will find the actual curry paste recipe with the chicken satay recipe.
- 2 T vegetable oil
- 3-4 lbs braising beef (I used a combo of bone-in chuck and short ribs, any tough, fatty cut will work, patted dry and sprinkled with salt and pepper)
- 2 lbs baby potatoes, washed
- 2 sweet bell peppers, sliced
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 1 cup massaman curry paste
- 1 19- 19-oz can coconut milk, full fat, separated as best you can (the fat from the water)
- 1 15- 15-oz can coconut milk, I used light here because of the fat from the beef
- 2-4 T fish sauce, to taste
- 2-4 T palm sugar, to taste (may sub brown sugar)
Preheat the oven to 300 F.
Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large Dutch oven. When it is shimmering, brown the beef on all sides, which will take a good 20 minutes or so. When it is brown, remove the beef to a large bowl.
Drain the excess fat off of the pot and add the coconut fat to the pot. As soon as it melts and starts to separate, add the curry paste. Mix it together and fry--scrape the bottom of the pot to deglaze. You want the mixture to separate, where you will see the curry paste fat separating from the rest of the mixture. When this happens, add the rest of the coconut milk with 2 tablespoons each of fish sauce and palm sugar. Mix. Return the meat to the pot, coating it on all sides. Cover the pot with a heavy, secure lid and place in the oven.
What temperature and how long to cook the dish at first depends on the amount of time you have. If you are starting in the morning, treat it like a slow cooker and start at 275 or even 250 F. If you are starting after lunch (for serving around 5:30), start at 300 F.
2 hours before serving the curry, remove it from the oven and add the potatoes. Turn the heat to 300 F if it was not already and return the lid to the pot. Return it to the oven for an hour.
1 hour before serving, sprinkle the onions and peppers all over the curry. Replace the lid, return it to the oven, and increase the heat to 325 F. If you are working on a tight schedule, check the curry after about 45 minutes to make sure the potatoes and onions are getting tender enough--if not, increase the heat to 350 F. If you are laid back, just let time do the work for you.
Before serving, taste for additional palm sugar and fish sauce; by my standards you will almost certainly need some, especially the fish sauce. Serve with jasmine rice and sambal oelek for those who like it spicier.