Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Indonesian Lime and Coconut Chicken

I love this dish because it tastes great and also because it never fails to impress guests. It seems so complicated; and yet, as you can see, it’s a snap. The trick is that the marinade doubles as a sauce.

(serves two parents and two children)

The Marinade
1 14-oz can coconut milk
3 Tbs peanut oil
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp curry powder
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp kosher salt
1 fresh jalapeno, minced
grated zest of a lime
cayenne pepper, to taste

The Chicken
4 boneless chicken breasts

The Garnish
cilantro coarsely chopped
lime wedges

1. Combine the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl or dish large enough to hold the chicken as well.

2. Pound each breast to flatten it into a paillard about ½-inch or ¾-inch thick. (If the breasts are especially plump, consider butterflying them—that is, slicing them across their thickness and opening them up like a book.)

3. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least an hour but not overnight.

4. Prepare your grill. When very hot, remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and grill the chicken until cooked inside with nice grill marks on the outside.

5. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, boil/simmer the marinade for about five minutes. (This kills whatever harmful bacteria may have migrated from the chicken.) Serve over the grilled chicken with a garnish of chopped cilantro and lime wedges.

• You can also make this dish on a stovetop using a large cast-iron skillet. Heat the pan over a high flame, add some peanut oil, let it come to temperature, and sauté the breasts quickly, about 2 minutes per side, until cooked all the way through.

• I use a Pyrex loaf pan to marinate the chicken because its small footprint and high sides ensure that the marinade covers all of the meat.

• If you don't have a specialized meat mallet, a heavy-bottomed saucepan or skillet will do. I recommend placing the chicken between sheets of wax paper to keep down the mess.

• When making this on a weeknight, I make the marinade the night before and add the chicken the next morning before I go to work. This way, the breasts are ready to grill when I get home.

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