Currently cooking from In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark
When I started reading through this book, looking for recipes to make, I skipped this dish three or four times. It looked like too much work. I couldn’t imagine the flavors. It just didn’t sound that good. Then Bryan happened to see the recipe; he thought it sounded good.
Maybe I should listen to him more often, because this dish rocked. Seriously, this is one of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever made. And it wasn’t that much work.
You begin by using a food processor to make a paste of salted, roasted cashews, cilantro, olive oil, garlic, soy sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and a jalapeno. Half of the paste gets rubbed over chicken thighs/drumsticks which are then broiled or grilled, and the rest of the paste is served at the table as extra sauce.
I used chicken breasts that I cut into pieces and threaded on metal skewers. I opted for the broiler over the grill, and I let the chicken marinate in the paste for about two hours before I broiled them. At first, I was worried that the paste was too sweet and too spicy (even though I only used half of a seeded jalapeno). But under the broiler, some sort of alchemy took place. Married with the chicken, the sweetness turned into a faint caramel bitterness, the toastiness of the cashews took center stage, and the spiciness of the jalapeno almost disappeared. Unfortunately, the paste that I saved to serve as a sauce (I thinned it down with a little water) was still too sweet. Next time I’ll add extra lime juice or cut the sugar a bit.
I can’t wait until summer when I can try this out on the grill. I suspect the smokiness of the grill will take this dish over the top.