March 8, 2017

Thai Chicken

I know adults don't get spring break, but I'm still frustrated this week since it seems like all my friends are leaving for some tropical destination this weekend and I have to wait until the end of March. Wiconsin problems. Instead of a buildup to a relaxing vacation, my week has consisted of endless midterms and lab reports and general pain over said midterms and lab reports. I've survived off of free pizza, frozen meals, and magical recipes like this Thai chicken that require minimal prep time but can be scaled up easily to last for days. This recipe can also be dressed up for the few times I'm not wolfing down dinner between stacks of flash cards; if you plate it over rice and serve it with a nice salad you've got yourself a pretty nice dinner.

The chicken itself is very simple; I sear it in a pan to get it nice and golden brown (and to get drippings to start the sauce) and finish it in the oven. You could also pop it in a slow cooker for extra tenderness and let it run all day while you're at work (or taking 30 exams). I sacrifice the crispy skin for extra flavor by pouring the sauce on top and essentially braising it in the sauce to cook it through. To me, infusing the chicken with the addictive flavors in the sauce is worth it, but you could also roast the chicken plain and serve it with the sauce when it's done to retain the crispiness (just make sure to cook down your sauce in the pot for longer so it thickens properly). As always, I tend to go with bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for maximum tenderness, juiciness, and flavor, but any cut will do as long as you adjust the cooking time accordingly.

As with most Thai recipes, the sauce appears to include a long list of ingredients that don't really go together. I'll admit it's not really instinctual to pair chili sauce, vinegar, coconut, peanut butter, ginger, and lime, but it tastes fantastic. The sauce has sour notes from the vinegar, heat from the chili sauce, sweetness from a hint of brown sugar, creaminess from the coconut, nuttiness from the peanut butter, umami from the soy sauce, and brightness from the lime and ginger. All the ingredients serve a purpose and balance all the flavors. If you've never had sweet Thai chili sauce, you're probably shocked that I call for a full half cup of it, but it has a more mellow flavor than you'd expect from a true hot sauce. If you can't find it in your local grocery store, try exploring an international market (you'll be able to find better and cheaper versions of the other ingredients, too). The sauce ingredients are whisked together and simmered in the pot with all your chicken drippings. For a nice thick sauce, I pour it on the chicken and let it cook down, but you can always reduce it in the pot and serve it on the side. A sprinkle of peanuts and scallions add crunch and brightness at the very end, the perfect finishing touch to a quick weeknight meal.

8 Chicken Thighs (or other cuts or 2 lbs boneless chicken)
2-3 T Oil
1/2 Cup Sweet Chili Sauce
3 T Rice Vinegar
1/3 Cup Coconut Milk
3 T Brown Sugar
3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
2 T Creamy Peanut Butter
1 1/4 tsp Grated Ginger
Juice from 1 Lime
1 T Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup Chopped Peanuts
4 Scallions, Sliced

Heat oven to 375F.

Pat the chicken dry and season with salt and pepper.

Combine the chili sauce, vinegar, coconut milk, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce, and the lime juice.

Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium high heat and add the oil. Sear the chicken for 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside and reduce heat to medium-low.

Add the chili sauce mixture to the skillet and bring to a boil. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking constantly.

Place the chicken back in the sauce, tossing to coat. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Sprinkle the peanuts and scallions on top.

Serves 6
Recipe Adapted from How Sweet Eats

1 comment:

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