During a recent trip to the grocery store, I picked up the America’s Test Kitchen 10th Anniversary Best Recipes 2001-2010.  I’ve loved the America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks since reading the “New Best Recipe” cookbook from Cook’s Illustrated at my parent’s house over Christmas.  If you ever want to know the “why” behind recipes (why this ingredient, why this way of cooking etc), I highly recommend picking up any of the Cook’s Illustrated or America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks …. they also have exceptionally good recipes.  Another option is a membership to America’s Test Kitchen – this is a link to the original recipe without my modifications.  There’s a 14 day free trial membership – I have no idea how much membership costs after the 14 days though, and frankly that bothers me a bit so I haven’t signed up for the membership.

The first recipe I made is the Thai Chile Beef (with a few modifications – namely chicken instead of beef).  I crave the spicy, salty combination now and make it at least once a week (with plenty of leftovers for a few lunches).

There are a few ingredients, but it’s really easy to make.  After everything is assembled, the cooking time is only 15 minutes.

Clockwise from left.  Chopped Cilantro, Peanut Oil, Chopped garlic in a bit of peanut oil, chopped peanuts, sauce (fish sauce, rice vinegar, water, brown sugar and asian chili paste),  sliced green onions, and sliced chicken marinated in fish sauce, brown sugar, coriander and white pepper. (missing chopped dried red chile pepers)

Rice – 2 cups jasmine rice, 2 1/2 cups water & 3 T Coconut balsamic vinegar (in rice cooker) – as an aside – I highly recommend any oils and vinegars from Fustinis :).

Final product – Rice topped with Thai Chile Chicken, extra cilantro and chopped peanuts.  Another plus, my 8 year old daughter loves this (minus the peanuts).  9 year old son is slightly less impressed and usually ends up making a peanut butter and honey sandwich on these nights – but that’s not uncommon.

Thai Chile Chicken

Sauce

2 T fish sauce
2 T rice vinegar
2 T water
1 T light brown sugar
1 T Asian chili-garlic paste

Chicken and Vegetables

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast sliced into 1/8 inch thick slices
1 T fish sauce
1 t light brown sugar
3/4 t ground coriander
1/8 t ground white pepper
3 T peanut oil
3 medium garlic cloves (minced or pressed through a garlic press)
3 dried red chiles
3 green onions
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped coarse

1. For the sauce: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and set aside

2. For the chicken and vegetables: Toss the chicken with the fish sauce, sugar, coriander, and white pepper in a medium bowl and let marinate for at least 10 minutes or up to 1 hour.  In a small bowl, mix 1 teaspoon of the oil and the garlic together.

3. Heat 2 teaspoons more oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking.  Add one-half of the chicken, breaking up any clumps with the back of a wooden spoon.  Cook without stirring until the meat is browned at the edges, about 1 minute.  Stir the chicken and continue to cook until cooked through, about 1-2 minutes longer.  Transfer the chicken to a clean bowl and cover with foil to keep warm.  Repeat with 4 teaspoons more oil and the remaining chicken.

4. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the skillet and return to medium heat until shimmering.  Add the chiles and green onions and cook until beginning to soften 2-3 minutes.  Clear the center of the skillet, add the garlic mixture, and cook, mashing the mixture into the skillet until fragrant 15-20 seconds.  Stir the garlic mixture into the green onions and chiles.

5. Stir in the chicken and any accumulated juices.  Whisk the sauce to recombine, then add to the skillet and cook, tossing constantly, until the sauce is thickened, about 30 seconds.  Stir in half of the cilantro.  Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the remaining cilantro (and mint) and the peanuts.

Serve over coconut rice (or just regular rice) if you don’t have the coconut balsamic.

A couple things – adjust the chiles for your preferred level of spice.  The two spicy aspects of the recipe are the Asian Chili-garlic paste & the dried red chiles – I would recommend decreasing the dried chiles and leaving the asian chili garlic paste level alone if you prefer less spicy food.  Also, most grocery stores carry fish sauce and some kind of chili garlic paste in the Asian section of the market.  If your normal store doesn’t carry it, check out another in town.

If you make this let me know what you think?  The cookbook/magazine is great and if you run across it I recommend picking it up.  I’m looking forward to trying some of the other recipes like Maple glazed Pork Tenderloin, Mexican pulled pork, Oven fried chicken, Creole style gumbo, Pad Thai, Skillet Lasagna, Classic Chocolate chip cookies, Hot Fudge Pudding cake.

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