When the weather is nice for three days and then turns rainy suddenly, as May in Portland is wont to do, your grilling plans can be shattered. Luckily this delicious marinade turned out beautifully in the oven and aside from the chicken and fresh ginger, I already had all of the ingredients on hand.
This chicken is super flavorful and just spicy enough, and turned out extremely tender chicken. It satisfied a craving for Indian food without a super long marinating time or slow cooking or anything like that. It came together quickly, cooked easily, and was so extremely satisfying. I will likely grill the chicken next time and I am positive it will be even more delicious that way, and I may not make any other type of chicken for quite some time.
We ate this tasty treat wrapped in Boston lettuce leaves, topped with a few chopped red onions and a spicy cilantro walnut sauce. On the side we had roasted sweet potatoes tossed with fresh lime zest which worked perfectly to balance the spiciness.
The chicken recipe is modified from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen and here is the recipe as I made it:
Coriander Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Sweet Potatoes
For the chicken:
3 lbs boneless chicken thighs
1 heaping tsp Cumin
2 heaping tsp ground Coriander
2 tsp freshly ground pepper
8 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
fresh ginger, a 2 inch piece, peeled and sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil or vegetable oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
1 heaping tsp Cayenne pepper (use more if you love spice, less if you don't)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
1/4 cup water (if needed)
For the sweet potatoes:
2 smallish sweet potatoes
salt & pepper
zest of 1 lime
For the Cilantro Walnut sauce:
(makes about 1 cup)
1 cup loosely packed cilantro (cut off most of the stems)
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 jalapeno pepper (seeded if you want a less spicy sauce)
1/2 cup unsalted walnut pieces
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
First, get your chicken marinating. Rinse the chicken, blot dry, and place in a baking dish or tupperware that allows the chicken to be in a single layer.
Using a blender or hand mixer, blend all of the other ingredients for the chicken (minus the water) to a smooth paste. Add water if needed to obtain a pourable consistency. Spread the paste over the chicken, tossing to coat all over. Place in refrigerator and let marinate for at least 2 hours, up to 6 hours.
When you are almost ready to cook the chicken, preheat the oven to 425 degrees and cut the sweet potatoes lengthwise into 8 wedges, and then cut those wedges in half. Toss on a parchment-lined cookie sheet lined with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
When the oven is hot and you are getting hungry, take the chicken out of the fridge, and put it onto a foil lined rimmed cookie sheet in a single layer. Place the sheet of chicken and the sheet of sweet potatoes into the oven.
After 10 minutes, toss the sweet potatoes and flip the chicken. Check the chicken and potatoes again after another 8 minutes or so.
While the chicken and potatoes are in the oven, blend up the Cilantro Walnut sauce with that handy hand blender (or regular blender) and taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or lemon juice as needed.
The chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees internally and the sweet potatoes should be fork tender but slightly crispy on the outside. When the potatoes come out of the oven, toss them with the zest of one lime.
Chop up some chicken, place it into a fresh crunchy Boston lettuce leaf with a few slices of red onion and a scoop of cilantro-walnut sauce, and eat it like a taco! The sweet potatoes were so so good on the side, and crunchy enough to eat with your fingers like french fries. We ate the leftover chicken in a salad over the next couple of days and it was also so so good.