Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Grilled chicken banh mi

banh-mi (2)
A couple of weeks ago, I had a business trip to London. Got home to what at first looked like a normal weekend. But Saturday after dinner, my little Nutmeg had some symptoms that triggered a call to the doctor. The nurse on duty sent us to the ER - more because their office was closed than a true emergency, but ER all the same.

Turned out to be strep with a couple odd symptoms, but my tiny girl was not released til the wee hours, and only after a couple of not-so-pleasant tests. She slept in Sunday but was still tired so I kept her home on Monday. And that's how she became my sous chef. Meet Chef Nutmeg. Pretty cute, huh?

I love cooking with my girls. Yes, it will be messier. Yes, it will take longer. But they love to help and are usually willing to taste whatever they've made. And I get to have my two favorite little people join me in doing the thing I love best.

Our menu: Grilled chicken banh mi with cilantro maggi aioli. The chicken is super easy. The aioli takes a bit of time, so if you're in a rush, use plain mayo or make some sriracha mayo. Both are great on banh mi. Make the pickles a day or two ahead and this is an easy weeknight meal.

You can have the recipe, but I'm keeping my sous chef.

Grilled chicken banh mi
Adapted from The Banh Mi Handbook by Andrea Nguyen

banh-mi (1)

    For the pickled carrot & daikon
  • 1 medium daikon
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. plus 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup lukewarm water

  • For the aioli
  • A handful of cilantro sprigs
  • 1/2 small shallot
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp. Maggi seasoning sauce
  • 1 cup canola oil

  • For the sandwiches
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 6 baguette buns, each 6-8 inches long
  • Thinly sliced cucumbers
  • Cilantro sprigs
  • Sriracha

Cooking Directions
  1. To make the pickle, peel and cut the daikon and carrot into sticks about 3 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Put in a bowl and toss with the salt and 2 tsp. sugar. Massage the salt and sugar into the vegetables for about 3 minutes or until you can bend a piece of daikon and the tips touch without breaking. Flush with running water and drain. Transfer to a quart jar.
  2. For the brine, stir together the 1/2 cup sugar with the vinegar and water until dissolved. Pour into the jar to cover. Discard any extra brine that won't fit in the jar. Refrigerate for one hour and store up to one month.
  3. To make the aioli, pulse the cilantro and shallot in a food processor until minced. Add the egg yolk, Maggi, and lemon juice. Run the food processor for about a minute until you have a creamy mixture.
  4. With the machine running, pour in the oil in a thin steady stream (the stream should be about as thick as a strand of angel hair pasta. The mixture will emulsify and have the consistency of mayonnaise. Store refrigerated in a airtight container for up to a week. Tastes best if it sits for at least an hour.
  5. Trim any visible fat off the chicken thighs. In a bowl, stir together the sugar, salt, pepper, fish sauce, and lime juice. Add the oil and chicken and cover and let marinate for 30 minutes or more.
  6. Preheat a grill over high heat, then grill the chicken thighs until cooked through and the juices run clear, about 10 minutes.
  7. To make the banh mi, spread some of the aioli on the bread. When slightly cooled, slice the chicken across the grain. Pile some chicken into each bun, along with a few cucmber slices. Top with some of the pickle, a few cilantro sprigs and a few drops of sriracha.

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