Marinated chicken and hearty vegetables grilled to perfection and topped with a vibrant Thai peanut sauce that’s bursting with tangy and spicy flavor.
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It’s officially grilling season in Minnesota! I decided to make on of my all-time favorite dishes to celebrate – Grilled Chicken Skewers with Thai Peanut Sauce. This dish is a double whammy of deliciousness. First from the grilled chicken which is tenderized in a delectable marinade and then from the peanut sauce. The flavor of Thai peanut sauce is simply out of this world. It’s sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy – there’s just nothing like it. I’m all set to grill the traditional summer fare – burgers, brats, corn on the cob – but to kick off the season right I went with a dish that’s hearty, healthy, and full of my all-time favorite word – flavor.
The key to moist and flavorful chicken is to marinate it before grilling. The marinade will tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavor. Start off by mincing four cloves of garlic. Next up is to dice the chicken. Cut 1 1/2 lbs. of chicken breast into chunks and place them in a mixing bowl. To the chicken add 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika, 1/8 tsp. kosher salt, and a pinch of pepper. Mix until the chicken is completely coated and then place the bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (letting the chicken marinate for a few hours is ideal but at least 30 minutes is recommended).
As the chicken is marinating the vegetables can be chopped. Feel free to use any vegetables you like – I prefer red bell peppers and mushrooms for this recipe. The sweetness of the peppers and earthiness of the mushrooms complement that peanut sauce perfectly. Simply chop the pepper into large chunks and cut the mushrooms into quarters. Try not to cut the vegetables too small to ensure that they don’t fall off the skewers. I like to use metal skewers when grilling because they’re nice and sturdy. Start and end each skewer with a mushroom – this will hold everything in place as they grill (that’s what my husband says anyway). Then alternate between the mushrooms, peppers, and chunks of chicken. Place the contents of the skewer fairly close together but don’t squeeze them crazy tight. Drizzle all of the skewers with a little olive oil to prevent them from sticking to the grill.
Next up is the peanut sauce. I will say this about peanut sauce – it is not an attractive food. This stuff is not going to win any modeling contracts but what it lacks in aesthetics it more than makes up for in taste. You will need to mince 4 more cloves of garlic and peel a 1-inch chunk of ginger. Once that’s done heat 1 Tbsp. of olive oil in a pan. Add the garlic, ginger (I like to grate ginger using a microplane or a cheese grater but you can mince it as well), and 1 Tbsp. of Sambal Oelek (chili-garlic sauce) and saute for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. Add 3/4 cup peanut butter, 1 cup full-fat coconut milk, 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce, 1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook on medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring often.
Place the skewers on the hottest part of a heated grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. This will give the edges a nice caramelization. Then move them to the edge of the grill (where the heat is lower) and cook for an additional 10 minutes or so. Make sure to turn the skewers every couple of minutes to make sure all of the sides are seared. Check the chicken after cooking to ensure that it has fully cooked through (safe internal temperature for chicken is 165 degrees Fahrenheit – you can use one of these to check). Remove from grill and get ready to serve.
To make this dish into a ‘meal’ I love to serve it over rice. Cook 1 1/2 cups of rice in a rice cooker or on the stove top. Once the rice is done add a scoop to each bowl. Remove the grilled chicken and vegetables from the skewers and add to the top of the rice. Drizzle desired amount of peanut sauce over the top of that. Garnish with a handful of fresh spinach and chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon. The cilantro and fresh lemon knock this thing out of the park. Make this dish and you won’t just be grilling this summer – you’ll be gourmet grilling!
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Pottery by Bill Gossman.
Marinated chicken and hearty vegetables grilled to perfection and topped with a vibrant Thai peanut sauce that's bursting with tangy and spicy flavor.
- 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breast
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil split
- 6 Tbsp. lemon juice split
- 8 cloves garlic split
- 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1/8 tsp. salt split
- pinch pepper
- 1 inch ginger
- 1 Tbsp. Sambal Oelek
- 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 package mushrooms button or crimini
- 1 1/2 cups rice
- 2 cups spinach
- 1 cup cilantro
For the marinade: Mince 4 cloves of garlic. Cut chicken breast into chunks and place in mixing bowl. Add minced garlic, 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/4 tsp. smoked paprika, generous pinch kosher salt, and pepper. Place the chicken in fridge and marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Cook 1 1/2 cups rice in rice cooker or on stove top.
Chop pepper into chunks and mushrooms into quarters.
Place the mushrooms, peppers, and marinated chicken onto metal skewers. Start and end each skewer with the mushrooms. Make sure contents of skewer are tight but not too tight. Brush the skewers with olive oil.
Heat grill and prepare for cooking.
For the peanut sauce: Mince 4 cloves of garlic and peel 1-inch of ginger. Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in pan. Add minced garlic, grated ginger, and 1 Tbsp. Sambal Oelek. Saute for 4-5 minutes or until fragrant. Add 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, 1 cup full-fat coconut milk, 3 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce, 1 1/2 Tbsp. brown, sugar, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook on medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.
Place the skewers on the hottest portion of grill and cook for 2-3 minutes per side. Move to the edge of the grill and cook for an additional 10 minutes, flipping to ensure that all the sides are cooked and chicken is cooked through (safe internal temp. is 165 degrees Fahrenheit). Remove from grill.
To serve: Place a scoop of rice in bowl. Remove chicken and vegetables from skewers and place on rice. Drizzle with desired amount of peanut sauce. Add a handful of fresh spinach, a handful of chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lemon.
The peanut sauce may separate a bit after it cooks. Keep it on the stove top on medium-low heat and stir again until combined.