Savory Peanut Butter

If your winter menus are beginning to look a bit bland, might I suggest adopting an ingredient that isn't often thought of as something at home in savory dishes? Peanut butter adds a protein punch and a delightfully creamy texture to all kinds of savory sauces and, this time around, I'm sharing a recipe that uses just that secret to transform what might otherwise be a rather boring chicken dish into something that's company-ready:

You begin with chicken and you don't need a lot of it. Because you coat the chicken with a spicy, crispy crust and drizzle the peanut butter-laden sauce over that, you can easily afford to keep portions small (and you probably should if you plan to serve this amazing dish often). I've found that I can serve my family of three easily with one large chicken breast, but you can alter the portion sizes and ingredient list as needed for this one. That said, I don't recall one chicken breast being enough to serve a small family when I was growing up. When did these super-chickens invade? Anyway, I digress.

The chicken's coating is easy to make and baking it keeps the fat content low and gives you time to toss the sauce ingredients together in a jar. Just shake the heck out of it (if you have a youngster, they might even offer to do that for you) and you've got a sauce ready to go. Drizzle it over the chicken just after you take it out of the oven and the residual heat will warm the sauce perfectly.

I enjoy serving this dish with some lightly fried rice with simple seasoning, no sauce, and whatever veggies I have on hand and think will make a pretty accompaniment to the main dish. And, this time around, I steamed some broccoli and tossed it with some honey, orange juice, and tamari sauce. Add a glass of plum wine or your favorite Asian beer and you've got dinner covered.

Crispy Malaysian Peanut Chicken

  • 1 large (nearly a pound) chicken breast, cut into 1” thick strips
  • 1 egg
  • 3 c. gluten-free Rice Chex pulverized into crumbs
  • 1 tsp. berebere seasoning (or something milder according to your tastes)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. table salt or pickling salt (fine grains are important)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. soy or tamari sauce
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. water (can reduce or adjust to get the thickness desired)
  • 1-2 tsp. crushed chili flakes (according to your tastes)

Trim the chicken of visible fat and slice into strips. Place in a plastic resealable bag and crack one egg into the bag. Seal the bag; turn and squeeze the bag to thoroughly coat the chicken in egg. Allow to rest in the refrigerator for 2-24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Combine the chex crumbs, berebere seasoning, cumin, and salt in a shallow dish. Carefully remove the chicken, one piece at a time, from the egg mixture. Allow most of the mixture to drip off before dredging it generously in the seasoned crumbs. Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking sheet covered with a silicone baking mat.

Bake the chicken for 20 minutes. Flip each piece of chicken, turn OFF the oven, and replace the baking sheet in the warm oven. Allow to continue baking in the closed oven for another 15 minutes.

While the chicken is finishing in the oven, prepare the sauce. Combine the peanut butter, soy or tamari sauce, brown sugar, water, and chili flakes in a resealable glass jar. Seal the jar and shake vigorously to combine. Serve the warm chicken with a generous drizzling of the sauce.

  • Yields: 2-3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes plus refrigeration time

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