Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chicken with Satay Sauce and Noodle Salad

This recipe is from when Jamie Oliver was on the Nate Berkus Show to teach him how to cook. It was a fun episode; in that segment, Nate ordered a chicken satay dish from a Thai restaurant, and before it was even delivered at his front door, Jamie had prepared an equivalent dish from scratch! I’m no professional chef, so obviously my prep took me longer, but it was still an easy dish. I’d had the recipe in my bookmarks for a long, long time, but luckily I had printed out a copy when the show got cancelled, as now the link no longer works. In the interest of preserving Jamie Oliver’s original recipe, I’ll write out the same ingredients he did, but be advised that I omitted the chiles, I didn’t use skewers, and I didn’t serve it in lettuce cups. I’ve also changed the wording of some of the steps to make it easier on myself to follow along, because it is somewhat long (and some of the original instructions were incomplete or in the wrong order).

This dish was really good! We all liked it, and since it wasn’t too complicated, I might make it again. Jamie Oliver suggests serving it with fruit garnished with mint sugar, so I’ll write that below in case you want to make it.

For the satay sauce
½ small bunch of fresh cilantro
1 fresh red chile (I omitted it)
½ clove garlic, peeled
a 1-inch piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and roughly chopped
3 heaping Tbsp. good-quality crunchy peanut butter (I used smooth)
soy sauce
2 limes

For the chicken
4 6-oz. skinless, boneless chicken breasts (I cut mine in half)
honey, for drizzling (optional)

For the noodles
½ medium-sized red onion, peeled
1 fresh red chile (I omitted it)
1 small bunch fresh cilantro
1-2 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. fish sauce
8 oz. dried Chinese egg noodles (chow mein noodles)
¾ cup unsalted raw cashews
1 tsp. honey

For serving
2 small hearts of romaine lettuce, trimmed at the base, leaves washed
½ small bunch fresh cilantro
1 fresh red chile (optional, and I’ll give you 1 guess as to whether or not I used it)
soy sauce
1 lime
extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Get all your ingredients ready (mise en place really helps here when you have so many things going on). Turn the broiler on to full blast. Lay 4 wooden skewers (see note below) in a dish of cold water to soak (if they float, use a plate to weight them down). Set a kettle of water to boil.

For the satay
Put the cilantro (stalks and all) into the food processor with the chile (stalk removed), garlic, ginger, peanut butter, and a lug of soy sauce. Finely grate the zest of both limes, then squeeze the juice from one of them. Add a couple of splashes of warm water and whiz to a spoonable paste. Season to taste. Spoon half into a nice bowl and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and set in on the dining room table; reserve the rest. Rinse out the food processor for a subsequent step.

For the chicken
Line up the chicken breasts close together on a cutting board, alternating ends. Gently and carefully push the skewers through the breasts. Slice between the skewers to give you 4 kabobs; thread any stray pieces on the ends of the skewers. (This isn’t clear to me, because the first step calls for a total of 4 skewers, but this clearly has you use more than 1 skewer per breast. I’m guessing you can just cut your chicken breasts and make skewers of the size you see fit. I cut my chicken breasts in half lengthwise and didn’t even use skewers. Don’t sweat it too much.) To make the chicken crisper, you can score it lightly on both sides.

Scoop the reserved satay mix into a roasting pan, add chicken skewers, and toss with your hands to coat, rubbing the flavor into the meat. Drizzle chicken with olive oil and season with salt. Put on top rack of the oven, under the broiler, for about 8 to 10 minutes on each side, or until golden and cooked through, drizzling with a little honey at the halfway point. (I cooked my chicken on a rack set on a baking sheet lined with foil.)

For the noodles
Meanwhile, put the onion half in the processor with the chile (stalk removed) and the cilantro. Pulse until finely chopped, then add a few lugs of olive oil, the soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, and fish sauce and pulse again to combine. Taste and correct the seasoning. Put the mixture into a large serving bowl.

Put the noodles in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and a plate, then leave to soak for 6 minutes (or cook the noodles according to package directions).

Put a medium frying pan on low heat. Bash the cashews with a rolling pin; add to the warm pan and leave to toast, tossing occasionally, for a few minutes. Turn the heat up to high and add honey, mixing and tossing the nuts in the pan. Once dark golden, tip them into the serving bowl, add the cilantro leaves (from the “For serving” heading above) and toss everything together.

For serving
Drain the noodles. Take the chicken to the table and serve it with a bottle of soy sauce and a few wedges of lime. Let everyone build parcels of lettuce, noodles, chicken, a sprinkle of onion mixture, satay sauce and a squeeze of lime.

For the fruit with mint sugar
1 large pineapple, peeled and sliced
1 heaping cup blueberries or other fresh berries or soft fruit
1 small bunch fresh mint
3 Tbsp. superfine sugar
1 lime, halved
1 cup creamy coconut yogurt

Arrange the pineapple and blueberries on a large platter.

Rip the leaves off the mint and pound in a pestle and mortar until you have paste. Add the superfine sugar and pound again. Scatter 1 tablespoon of this mint sugar over the pineapple.

Arrange the coconut yogurt in individual dishes, top with fruit, scatter remaining sugar and squeeze the lime over each serving.

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