Thai Peanut Chicken with Coconut Rice

Nick and I both love Thai food and (besides sushi) it’s one of the things we missed most while living in BFE, Oklahoma. Luckily, Meridian has not one but TWO Thai places! Both of which we’ve already visited, and both of which have pretty tasty food.

But there are two problems. 1. Town is kind of far away. 2. One of the places is actually in a little town outside the city and they allow smoking inside. WHAT!? Did they miss the fact that it’s 2012? How is this even still legal? Nick asked me why the owner would ever allow such a thing when it clearly would hurt their business. Unfortunately, in Hicksville, Mississippi, I think the opposite is true.

So, since I don’t enjoy my tom yum with a side of lung cancer, I’ll keep trying to recreate the flavors at home.

This recipe came from Betty Crocker. Last time I checked, Betty was as American as they come, and I doubt she’s ever set foot in Asia. Salsa seemed kind of weird in a Thai dish, but you never know, I’ve seen stranger ingredients. So I went with it.

Thai Peanut Chicken with Coconut Rice

(adapted from Betty Crocker)

  • about 3 lbs bone-in chicken (I used all breasts)
  • 1 1/2 cups chunky hot salsa
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 cup dry long grain brown rice
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken skin-side down in a 9×13 inch pan. In a medium bowl, mix salsa, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce and ginger. Spread sauce over chicken.

Cover with tin foil and bake 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine rice, coconut milk and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer about 50 minutes, until liquid is absorbed.

After 30 minutes, turn the chicken pieces over and spoon pan sauces over chicken. Bake uncovered 20 to 30 minutes longer or until chicken is cooked through.

Serve chicken and rice sprinkled with peanuts and cilantro.

Sorry, Betty, but I wouldn’t really call this Thai. I’ll give you American-Thai. Kind of like how Taco Bell is “Mexican”. Yes, this chicken was DELICIOUS! (Is anything Betty makes not?) But though I could taste the peanut butter, cilantro, and other Thai flavors, the salsa was definitely the strongest. It was interesting, and yummy, but we may need a better name for it!

Ohh, almost forgot. The smoky restaurant we went to was super authentic, both to Mississippi and to Thailand. It was authentic Mississippi in that the restaurant is in a double-wide trailer and the decor looks like a flea market threw up on it. (I’m not kidding. This is where I live, people.)

But it was authentic Thai, too. Everyone in there barely spoke English and you could tell everything was made fresh from scratch, with love. The meals came with a little pickled cucumber salad, which I’d never seen before.

Then I noticed this Betty Crocker recipe suggested serving with a vinaigrette-dressed cucumber salad. So I guess it’s a Thai thing! I served my chicken and rice with my own take on cucumber salad (thinly sliced cukes, green peppers and onions marinated in vinegar, a little sugar, s&p). The fresh crunch of the cucumber really went great with the richness of the meal!

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