Monday, June 18, 2012

Chicken Satay Lettuce Wraps

This space has been very quiet for the past week.  I felt guilty about it, to tell you the truth.  Well at least I did at first.

Last week was the first full week of summer vacation for us.  We had no plans, I was just going to do what I usually do in the summer- wing it.  Maybe we'll go to the zoo, maybe the library, maybe just stay home and let the kids play with their neighborhood friends.  But at the last minute, we got invited to go camping with some of my oldest's school buddies.  Four days at the beach with nothing but games to play and waves to body surf.  Perfect.
And while there were plenty of marshmallows to roast and camp dinners to grill, I let my cooking mojo take a vacation.  It was nothing but campfire nachos, hot dogs and burgers.  Simple, good food that you don't need a recipe or fancy cookware to make it delicious.  I did feel anxious to get something on the blog- to not let a whole week go by in silence.  Once you get into the groove of this blogging thing, it's tough to just stop.  A little addiction of sorts.  But then as I got more sand between my toes, walked the tide pools, and watched my boys play from sun up to way past sundown I let go of my anxiety and just enjoyed being unplugged for a while.

My batteries needed the recharge.  And now I'm back with a vengeance, cooking up a storm and trying to figure out how to use my new (to me) fancy camera to get really great shots.  I'm not quite ready to show them off yet (confession- I can't figure out how to upload them!), but in the meantime, I've got some good stuff in store for you.  First up, spicy chicken satay wraps.
Chicken Satay Lettuce Wraps
Serves 4.
For a printable version click here.

Walking through our local farmer's market recently, I came across a couple of young cute guys selling natural peanut butter.  They had all sorts of flavors, from cocoa and honey to curry.  My favorite, however, was the chipotle.  It had a great spice and kick and it really amped up the peanut flavor.  I used it for the marinade in this recipe and couldn't be more pleased with the flavor.  If you're ever in my neck of the woods, check out Handsome Carver's peanut butter at the Channel Islands Farmer's Market, or be daring and buy one of their great peanut butters online. You won't regret it.

For the marinade:
2 lbs chicken breasts, sliced into 1 inch thick strips
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup chipotle peanut butter (or 1/3 cup natural peanut butter, 3/4 tsp chipotle chili powder and a pinch of smoked paprika)
2 tbs low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp dark sesame oil

Place the chicken strips in a large, zip-top bag or a shallow bowl.  In a food processor, blend together the marinade ingredients.  Pour over the chicken and toss to coat the chicken well.  Refrigerate for at least an hour or up to overnight.

Thread the chicken strips onto skewers and grill for 4-5 minutes per side until completely cooked.  Let the chicken cool and then slip the strips off the skewers.

For the peanut sauce:
(adapted from The Parsley Thief)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
1 tbs low sodium soy sauce
3 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs brown sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
water to thin

Blend all of the sauce ingredients in a food processor.  Use water to thin the sauce to your desired consistency.

For the wraps:
1 head butter lettuce
2 persian cucumbers or 1 english cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced into half moons
1 large carrot, shredded or cut into matchsticks
2 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced

Layer the chicken and topping in a butter lettuce leaf.  Drizzle with peanut sauce and enjoy!

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