Indonesian Peanut Chicken
I was scrolling through my recipe books last weekend when I found some copied pages out of the Mount Dessert Island Cookbook. We’re always looking for new chicken recipes, so I filed this one away for memory after writing down a few random ingredients (chunky peanut butter, cilantro) to get at the store. (Oddly, I didn’t write them all down. Just a few. Which is why we didn’t have peanut oil or garlic – see notes on the recipe.) Then I forgot about it. A few days ago, I found the cilantro in the fridge and remembered that there was something I meant to make with it. But I didn’t remember what, so I had to go trolling through my recipe books again. It took two passes by this recipe to catch on that it was the right one, but I’m glad I finally got it!
This chicken, by experiment standards, was fast and easy. Despite my half-hearted efforts, I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I faked it (as usual), and it still turned out remarkably well. And we got to eat dinner before 7:00, which puts this solidly in the “try this again” recipe category.
You can’t really tell from the pictures how much I cheated, but that garlic powder is supposed to be real garlic, the brown sugar is supposed to be light brown instead of dark brown, the olive and sesame oil are supposed to be peanut oil, and my cilantro could have been fresher (I forgot about this recipe, remember).
The sauce was the most fun, and in retrospect given how easy it was and how basic the ingredients are, I’ll probably start making this as a sauce for all sorts of things. It would be delicious on whole wheat noodles (I can hear Calin cringing from the basement as I write that), and I’m sure I can come up with other things to put it with too. But the sauce did exactly what it was supposed to with minimal intervention from me, which is precisely what I love in a recipe.
Cooking the chicken took a bit more innovation, since we didn’t have a pan that would fit all four pieces. (Well, we do. But that’s the pan I used for the lemon chicken, and we all know how well that worked out…. That pan is definitely better for pancakes and french toast.) So Calin patiently cooked two breasts at a time as quickly as he could so the first two didn’t get cold while he cooked the second two.
Fortunately, this last part involves putting everything back in the pan and heating it up a bit more, so the split cooking worked out just fine. We did discover that they needed to cook a bit longer in the sauce than the recipes suggests – just stirring to coat was definitely not enough.
The sauce in the original pan didn’t look like it was going to be quite enough, but when combined with the chicken juices it ended up being plenty. It would probably still have been enough if we had drained the chicken juice out, but we didn’t think of that until it was too late. In the end, it was just fine the way it was. We served the chicken over couscous that I cooked with garlic olive oil (for a little too long – I’m still working on the timing thing), and poured sauce over the top, and everything was delicious.
Indonesian Peanut Chicken
Lompoc Cafe, Bar Harbour, Maine
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp + 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp jalapeno
- 2 tbsp peanut oil
- 2/3 cup chunky peanut butter
- 2 tbsp light brown sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
- 4 chicken breasts, boneless
- Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan.
- Turn off the heat and add the peanut butter, garlic, brown sugar, lemon juice, soy sauce, and jalapeno.
- Bring the heat back up to medium low, stirring constantly, until peanut butter is completely melted.
- Continue to stir until mixture becomes thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in cilantro.
- Flatten chicken breasts to 1/4″ thickness with a mallet.
- Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat.
- Place chicken breasts in pan and cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Turn chicken over, lower heat to medium, and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes, or until almost cooked through.
- Place peanut sauce in the pan and stir, coating the chicken well with the sauce. (Make sure you check the chicken before you take it off the heat – ours needed more time here.)
- Serve over rice or couscous.
Notes: My garlic went bad, so I used garlic powder instead. I skipped the jalapeno (much to Calin’s dismay) because I’m just not that adventurous. I also didn’t have peanut oil, so I used 1 tbsp sesame oil and 1 tbsp olive oil. Finally, our pan wasn’t big enough so we had to cook the chicken in two batches. Here’s where I’m going with this: I barely followed this recipe, and it was delicious. Easy and forgiving – try it!
Sneak peak: Reenie trying to get to the chicken.