Sticky Thai Peanut, But Mostly Orange Chicken (Or: Clash of the Textures)

To start: my humble apologies. This post only has one photo, and that’s because…my phone finally bit the dust. It was hinting at it for awhile, but it finally died last week, and any photos after October of 2015 are lost forever in the void. So… may be an interesting next few months, photo-wise. Maybe I can draw some dishes from memory! In any case…

MILESTONE ALERT: I don’t recall ever making any food that had distinct multiple flavors before until I made this bad boy, a perfect balance of savory and sweet from Carlsbad Cravings.

I was a bit hesitant to try this because… it involves incorporating peanut butter into a sauce.

I HATE warm peanut butter.

Room temperature peanut butter is one of my favorite things. It sustained me through college, it’s good with chocolate, it’s good in cookies- what’s not to like? But when it’s warm, it turns into gooey suburban napalm. I can barely tolerate rinsing out an almost-empty peanut butter jar with warm water to put it in the recycling bin. I’m glad I risked it, though, because it was worth it.

So it may seem like the textures included in the sauce don’t work together, but they do, and they bake together into a syrupy concoction that’s out of this world. As I whisked all the ingredients together, the peanut butter all gluey and stuck to the whisk, I held my breath and kept blending until it was all smooth and mixed.

After my first well-balanced bite, my aversion to warm peanut butter was soon forgotten. And this spice rub… I’m keeping it on hand for future use. It’s really that good.

Noteworthy changes:

I used smooth peanut butter, because I’m not a goddamn heathen. I also used Maggi sweet chili sauce (mild) instead of sriracha (which is what the original recipe calls for), which was a nice way to leave out the heat. Between the (incredible) spice rub on the chicken and the sweet sauce, there’s plenty of flavor so those who are not big fans of spicy food won’t be left wanting.

I also left off the chopped peanuts and orange zest, but not for any reason other than I just didn’t have them. My roommates had plenty of blood oranges…a few days before I made this. Then they used a juicer to make cocktails out of them, and that was that:

Nina making cocktails
It felt like a science lab in our kitchen.

To be honest, though, you get plenty of citrus flavor, and if the zest added much, it might even wind up being overkill.

As always, the 30 minute thing is a lie, because if food bloggers were ever honest about how long it takes them to put together a meal, lazy assholes like me would never cook again. From prep to plate, this took about an hour and 15 minutes.

Here’s how I wound up making it:

Sticky Thai Peanut, but Mostly Orange Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Print
**REQUIRES AN OVENPROOF SKILLET. NOT A DRILL. IT SERIOUSLY NEEDS ONE.**

Ingredients

  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut in half horizontally
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup of white rice, for serving

Rub:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


Peanut Orange Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon mild chilli sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Garnish:

  • 4 chopped green onions

Directions

  1. Mix all the spice rub ingredients together in a small bowl. This should make a paste.
  2. Take the halved chicken thighs and evenly apply the rub. Cover and return to the refrigerator for now.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients. Set aside.
  5. Melt the butter in the ovenproof skillet over medium high heat.
  6. Add chicken and cook until browned on all sides (for me, this was about 5 minutes per side, but I used a cast iron skillet, so cooking time may vary). Remove from the skillet and put on a clean plate.
  7. Pour the sauce into the skillet and simmer 1 minute, scraping the sides of pan to deglaze.
  8. Add the chicken back to skillet, and spoon some sauce over chicken.
  9. Wait for the sauce to bubble (about 1 minute) and then move it to the oven. Bake 8 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, depending on thickness.
  10. Garnish with desired toppings and serve over rice.

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