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Pot Roasted Coconut Chicken

20 mins Cook
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Copy of NomNom Recipes 1 34

This pot-roasted coconut chicken is not only visually stunning but also surprisingly easy to prepare, requiring only a handful of basic ingredients. It epitomizes the type of dish I truly enjoy creating, and the best part is, it happens to be good for your health! This delightful recipe hails from the “Feel Good Food” cookbook, authored by Valli Little, a revered figure in the Australian culinary world, celebrated as a chef, cookbook writer, and magazine editor.

Coconut Chicken Pot Roasted Coconut Chicken

Meeting a legend in the Australian culinary scene is not an everyday occurrence, and for someone like me leading a rather ordinary and unglamorous life, it’s practically unheard of. So, when I was offered the opportunity to explore Valli Little’s latest cookbook and, to top it off, meet her in person, it felt like an early Christmas gift!

I must confess, I felt a tad nervous at first. Valli graciously invited me to her home, and the moment I stepped through her door, it felt as though I was reuniting with an old friend. You know those people who effortlessly put others at ease and instantly make them feel welcomed? Valli Little possesses that gift. What struck me most about her was her remarkable humility and down-to-earth nature, laced with a touch of playfulness. She’s just like any of us – your neighbor, your friend, your mother, your coworker.

Oh, did I forget to mention? She also happens to be one of the most prominent figures in the Australian food industry. As the Food Director of Delicious magazine, the author of the Delicious cookbook series, and a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu in London, she’s widely recognized. Her recipes seem to pop up everywhere! But what truly captivated me about Valli was her unwavering passion for food (her expertise goes without saying). She genuinely adores what she does. You often hear about people’s eyes lighting up when they talk about their passions, and that’s exactly what I witnessed when Valli and I engaged in a casual conversation about her background, family, the intricacies of cookbook writing, her surprisingly unglamorous life in the magazine industry (she certainly burst my bubble there), and, of course, food.

When I’m with my family, our time typically revolves around eating, cooking, planning our next meal, and engaging in lively discussions about food – minus the arguing part. In that sense, my morning with Valli felt like spending time with my family, comfortable and completely in my element, talking about what I love!

I was particularly intrigued to learn more about her latest cookbook, “Feel Good Food.” To begin with, Valli is far from being a trendy health food chef. Much like me, she’s not one to jump on food trends simply for the sake of it, such as paleo diets, kale, or chia seeds.

I knew there was a compelling backstory to this cookbook, which, honestly, if you ignore the title, wouldn’t immediately strike you as a “healthy” cookbook. And indeed, it isn’t – Valli is quick to clarify that. In her own words, it’s about becoming more conscious of what you’re putting into your body. For Valli, it was a health scare last year when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer that served as the catalyst for this cookbook. We didn’t delve into that topic during our conversation – I forgot to check with her publisher if it was off-limits – but I was aware of it.

She spoke about her treatments and the scare it brought to her and her family. This experience inspired the creation of a cookbook focused on being mindful of the ingredients you use to make your meals healthier, without the need for fancy, expensive sugar substitutes and unpronounceable ingredients.

There are numerous recipes from her cookbook that I wanted to share, but alas, I could only choose one. I plan to inquire with Valli if I can showcase another one since there are a few more that I truly adore.

I believe she’d be pleasantly surprised to learn just how many of her recipes I’ve already had the pleasure of trying. Nevertheless, this pot-roasted chicken stands out distinctly. It deviates quite a distance from the traditional pot-roasted chicken, offering a modern, fresh Asian-inspired twist with exceptional flavors, and it’s also remarkably clean. What keeps slipping my mind is that this is indeed a clean recipe!

P.S. If you happen to think that stuffing the herb mixture under the skin is a tricky task, think again! I have a clever tip that makes it incredibly easy – you can refer to the step-by-step photos in the recipe below. It genuinely takes just about 2 minutes, and you won’t accidentally tear the skin! Now, let’s talk about the broth – it’s truly sensational. I prepared this chicken four times in three days just before my trip to Mexico, and I found myself sipping the broth straight from a cup. The base consists of coconut milk, which is lightened up with chicken broth/stock, and it carries the delicate, earthy aroma of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves (I’ve also provided substitutes!), freshness from lime, and a touch of sweet and salty. Initially, I thought, “The flavors won’t pack enough punch for me,” but boy, was I mistaken!

You know, I had originally planned to conduct a proper interview with Valli, and I apologize if that’s what you were expecting. I had a list of the usual questions ready – how she began her culinary journey, what it’s like to write a cookbook, and so on.

However, all those plans went out the window as soon as we started conversing. Firstly, I didn’t want to disrupt our conversation by sticking my iPhone between us to record it (talk about a mood spoiler!). Secondly, it felt so much more meaningful to me to simply “get to know her” and share my personal experience with you, rather than typing out answers to conventional interview questions.

I did manage to pose just one (incredibly important) question, which I diligently noted down. *Whenever I play this game, people often try to argue that “bread” and “butter” are two separate food items. However, I say it really quickly, and since it’s my game, I declare that they count as one food item. **This encompasses every type of cheese in existence. Every single one!

Now, who’s up for the idea of joining Valli and me to live on a deserted island? It promises to be an absolute blast!

Pot Roasted Coconut Chicken

Pot Roasted Coconut Chicken

This pot-roasted coconut chicken is not only visually stunning but also surprisingly easy to prepare, requiring only a handful of basic ingredients. It epitomizes the type of dish I truly enjoy creating, and the best part is, it happens to be good for your health! This delightful recipe hails from the "Feel Good Food" cookbook, authored by Valli Little, a revered figure in the Australian culinary world, celebrated as a chef, cookbook writer, and magazine editor.
prep time
10 mins
cooking time
20 mins
total time
30 mins



  • 2 long red chilies (Note 1)

  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger

  • 2 garlic cloves , crushed

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or substitute with olive oil)

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • Black pepper

  • 1 cup finely chopped cilantro/coriander leaves

  • 3 lb /1.6kg whole chicken , preferably organic/free range

  • 2 cups / 500 ml chicken broth/stock (preferably reduced salt)

  • 1 lemongrass , white part only, bruised (Note 2)

  • 2 kaffir lime leaves (Note 3)

  • 14 oz /400ml light coconut milk (1 can)

  • 0.8 lb / 400g baby potatoes , scrubbed clean

  • 1 lime

  • 2 tsp coconut sugar (or substitute with brown sugar)

  • 1 tbsp fish sauce


Preheat your oven to 390°F (200°C).
Begin by finely mincing a single red chili, which should yield around one tablespoon of minced chili. Combine this minced chili with ginger, garlic, oil, half a cup of cilantro (or coriander), salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Set this mixture aside.
Thoroughly rinse the chicken and pat it dry both inside and out using paper towels. Starting from the chicken's neck end, use an inverted teaspoon to gently separate the skin from the meat across the chicken's surface (excluding the legs and wings). Continue this process as far as you can.
Spoon the cilantro mixture into the space between the meat and the skin near the neck. Utilize the spoon to evenly distribute the mixture, and to finish, use your fingers or hands over the skin's surface to spread the mixture as evenly as possible. Perfection is not necessary!
In a Dutch oven or a baking tray, place the chicken stock (or broth), kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, and the whole red chili. (Note 4)
Position the chicken in the broth, cover it with a lid, and roast for 45 minutes. Afterward, remove the lid, add the coconut milk and potatoes, then continue roasting for an additional 30 minutes, or until the chicken's juices run clear when pierced.
Take the chicken out of the broth and loosely cover it with foil, allowing it to rest for 5 minutes.
Skim off any excess fat from the surface of the broth; typically, I remove about 5 tablespoons of fat.
Add the lime juice, sugar, and fish sauce to the broth. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Finally, add the remaining cilantro (or coriander).
You can serve the chicken along with the broth in a pouring jug, or you can cut up the chicken and serve it within the broth.


Opt for long red chilies that provide a mild heat; you'll need approximately 1 tablespoon of finely minced chili. If long red chilies are unavailable, you can substitute with 3/4 tablespoon of chili paste mixed into the stuffing to be placed under the chicken skin, and include a whole red chili (intact) in the cooking broth. When working with lemongrass, remove the tough outer pale green layers to expose the inner white part. Trim the woody end to retain the white and pale green sections. Gently crush it with the side of your knife to release its aromatic flavors. Kaffir Lime Leaves have a distinctive fragrance of lime with earthy undertones, and there's no suitable substitute that comes close. They are generally affordable and can be found in Asian grocery stores, some green grocers, and even supermarkets nowadays (in Sydney, try Harris Farms, Coles, or Woolworths). Additionally, they freeze exceptionally well! These leaves are a culinary gem for Asian dishes and can elevate plain cooked rice or enhance the flavors of coconut-based Asian soups, sauces, and curries. If you absolutely can't find them, you can grate lime zest into the broth to still enjoy a delightful flavor. If your cooking vessel isn't deep enough, causing the lid to come into contact with the chicken, or if you're using foil to cover the chicken, consider spraying the top of the chicken with oil. This precaution prevents the skin from sticking and tearing when you remove the lid, which can be quite disheartening.
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