Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Recipe: Panko Chicken with Red Bell Pepper - Peanut Sauce

I would like to tip my hat to my wife for the inspiration for this recipe. While she is not as passionate about cooking as I am, she does turn out her own really good dishes when she feels inclined. One of the areas of cooking where she surpasses me is with the venerable crock pot. She is a crock pot master and I am just a humble student.

Beyond a stew, I don't think I'd be able to coerce much good from a crock pot. Not so with my wife. She has produced all manner of wonderful things from crock pots. From tasty dishes like the one the recipe below finds its roots in, to delightfully gooey and delicious chocolate desserts. There are no clinkers in her cadre of crock pot cookery creations! So, unlike many homes in which the crock pot either collects dust or is relegated to warming cocktail weenies or beans at parties, our crock pot sees regular use.

Recently, she created a version of a Thai dish she found in one of her crock pot cook books. It was of course delicious and pretty authentic tasting. I loved the rich, satay-like peanut sauce and at some point mid-dinner, after my compliments and comments regarding its various delicious aspects I got the idea to take elements of the recipe in a different direction. My idea was a Japanese and Thai fusion of sorts.

Chicken Katsu is a popular dish in my house. Easy-to-prepare and loved by all. So, I just thought I'd bend my wife's dish a little bit by preparing my version of the sauce from it with katsu-style fried chicken dish along with steamed Jasmine rice (or noodles like my wife's recipe). The resulting dish is rich and delicious and will certainly find its way on our dinner table again.

NOTE: If you are on a low sodium diet, you may want to prepare this recipe using low-sodium options where you can.

Panko Chicken with Red Bell Pepper - Peanut Sauce

4 boneless breast of chicken
2 red bell peppers (one cut in 2" slices, one cut into a 1/4" dice)
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup of smooth peanut butter
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1-1/2 tsp Thai red curry paste
2-1/2 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup of water
Peanut oil for frying
1 cup of flour
2 eggs
1 TBS milk
Panko bread crumbs
3 Green onions (cut into 2" pieces
3/4 cups peanuts (chopped)
3/4 cups cilantro (chopped)

Trim the boneless chicken breast and flatten to 1/2" with the flat side of a meat tenderizer. Season with salt and pepper and set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a sauce pan combine the chicken broth, soy sauce, peanut butter, garlic, red curry paste and sliced red bell pepper. Place over medium heat and bring to a low simmer. Whisk frequently until the peanut butter is dissolved and sauce is smooth. Set to a very low simmer and cover pan while you prepare the other ingredients. Stir occasionally.

Prepare the Jasmine rice the normal way. While it cooks prepare the other ingredients.

Place the peanut oil in a deep frying pan and bring to frying temperature.

Place the flour in a plate, beat the eggs with the milk in a wide shallow bowl and place the panko flakes in a plate. Dredge each chicken breast in flour (removing excess), then dip it in the egg wash (draining excess), then coat well with panko flakes. Fry each breast in the peanut oil until golden brown on each side and cooked through. Place on draining rack.

When done frying the chicken remove the cover from the sauce pan. Raise the heat to a simmer and slowly drizzle in the cornstarch and water mixture while constantly stirring until the sauce thickens well. Add the green onions to the sauce and continue stirring for 1-2 minutes being careful not to scorch the sauce. Remove from heat.

Plate with a bed of rice with the panko chicken breast on top. Cover the rice and chicken with a generous portion of the red bell pepper-peanut sauce and garnish heavily with the chopped peanuts, cilantro and the diced red bell pepper. Serve immediately.

If you'd like it a little spicy, add some sriracha or some chopped red chilis.

Enjoy this recipe with an ice cold Thai beer!

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