Grilled Chicken of the Week

I confess this was actually last week in grilled chicken, and also that it will most likely be next week in grilled chicken and possibly the week after that, too, because the dinner is that good — so fresh and flavorful and just plain beautiful — and I should probably try to control myself before I overdo it. (Longtime readers may recognize the dinner as a new take on a recipe from Jeanne Kelley’s gem-of-a-book Salad for Dinner.) I know it’s popular to hate on grilled chicken breasts these days, but my feeling is that when chicken breasts are marinated properly, pounded to even thickness, not over-grilled (i.e, dried out), then tossed with greens and a good dressing, it’s the best kind of summer eating. Here’s how I did it…

Grilled Chicken with Pineapple and Spicy Peanut Sauce
The recipe serves 2-3, so scale up or down accordingly. The spicy peanut sauce makes almost a cup, though, so you’ll have some leftover, which is a very good thing for your cucumber snacking life, I assure you.

juice of two limes
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/3 cup natural oil

Spicy Peanut Sauce
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons (packed) brown sugar
1 tablespoon Sriracha
1 large garlic clove, pressed

4 large chicken breasts, pounded thin
14-16 pineapple chunks, threaded onto skewers
12 ounces green beans, boiled for 4 minutes, then plunged into an ice bath
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
3 tablespoons finely sliced red onion
Spicy peanut sauce (below)
For serving: cilantro, crushed salty peanuts

Whisk marinade ingredients in a small bowl or measuring cup, then pour over chicken breasts in a glass dish, small enough so every piece is somewhat covered by the marinade. (This marinade makes enough to cover four chicken breasts the size you see above.) Let sit for as long as you can, but at least 3 hours. Toss it a few times if you can over that period.

Meanwhile, make your spicy peanut sauce: In a mini food processor, whirl together the peanut butter, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, Sriracha, and garlic until it’s emulsified. If the sauce is too gloppy (and not drizzly), process in a tablespoon of water at time until you reach desired consistency.

When you are ready to cook, heat a grill to medium-high, and brush with a tiny bit of olive oil. Let any excess marinade drip off the chicken before you place on the grill. Depending on thickness, grill pieces about 5-6 minutes total, flipping halfway, until chicken is firm but not rock hard to the touch. Remove to a platter and let sit. Place pineapple skewers on the grill and cook for about 5 minutes total, turning frequently so the pineapple caramelizes and chars all over. 

Slice the chicken into strips on the bias (as shown), and add to a large bowl with the pineapple, green beans, red pepper, red onion. Drizzle about 1/3 cup of the spicy peanut sauce on top and toss so everything is coated. Serve garnished with cilantro and crushed peanuts.

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