The Daring Cooks Challenge for July was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. Their challenge was to make a nut butter from scratch and then use it is a savory dish. If you are not familiar with the Daring Cooks Challenges, this is a group (made up primarily of food bloggers), that participate each month in a cooking challenge. You can either make the suggested dish or get creative and do a variation on the recipes provided.
Nutrition research suggests that nuts are good for your health. Nut butters, or pureed nuts, make it easy to use nuts in cooking. Although peanut butter is a staple in North America, most popular as the star ingredient in peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and beloved in peanut butter cookies and other sweets, it’s seldom used in preparing savory dishes. Nut butters — including not only peanut butter but almond, cashew, and walnut butters — are common ingredients in many Asian and African countries, used in a wide array of savory dishes. Nut butters add complex & interesting flavors to dishes, provide body & thickness to sauces, and can be used to replace the dairy fats or other oils in recipes.
Since it has been soooo hot, I was going to make an Asian style salad with a peanut dressing for this challenge. I thought that would be a perfect dinner, but decided that I would not do another salad post, since I just did the grilled chicken salad earlier in the week. Left with this dilemma of what then to prepare, I decided the next best thing was a dish with a bit of a kick, so I prepared Chicken Peanut Curry. We are really enjoying hot and spicy dishes these days, so why not have one more!
Now, I do have to say, that I love fresh nut butters and will grind my own peanut and almond butters at the store. Until this challenge, I had not made my own at home before. Unfortunately, Mr. Bunkycooks now thinks that homemade peanut butter is just incredibly delicious and obviously, very simple to prepare at home, so guess what?! I will not be buying the jarred stuff again. This is the same problem I now have with strawberry jam and homemade ice cream. I really just need to stop making this stuff…and he would never know the difference!
Of course, when I went to the store to buy shelled peanuts in bulk, this particular store had every nut available but peanuts. They even had a huge bin of filberts! What’s the chance of that?! Of course, they had bags and bags of peanuts in the shell, so you can guess what I had to do to get enough nuts to make my peanut butter.
Just so you know, one cup of nuts will equal approximately one half cup of nut butter. I used the roasted peanuts in the shell and put them in the food processor for about two to three minutes (as was suggested) and then had really yummy peanut butter! I did not salt it because I was using it in a dish. I would also recommend not using any type of salted nut to make a nut butter. I would use an unsalted roasted nut and then add salt to taste.
I chose to make a Chicken Peanut Curry recipe that is adapted from Simply Recipes. I made half of the recipe since it was just the two of us. The flavors were complex and there was a bit of heat. This dinner was a nice surprise. Definitely squeeze some fresh lime juice over the top. It brightens up the dish and adds another level of flavor. Serve it with Jasmine rice and you will have a delightful curry.
Thanks to Margie and Natashya for hosting this month’s challenge! Homemade peanut butter was very fresh tasting and so easy to make. I just have to now convince Mr. Bunkycooks that the stuff from the store is every bit as good, otherwise, I will be shelling peanuts indefinitely!
Chicken Peanut Curry
Adapted from (just barely) Simply Recipes
3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken pieces (or you can use bone-in for added flavor), cut into 1 1/2 inch wide chunks or strips (I used boneless, skinless breasts)
1/2 cup flour
4 tablespoons curry powder
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground peppercorns
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 serrano chili peppers, seeded, de-veined, minced (I could only find jalapenos, so that is what I used)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh peanut butter (If using freshly ground peanuts, add 2 teaspoons of sugar) – I did not add the sugar.
1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
8 green onions, chopped, greens included
1/3 cup each finely chopped mint and cilantro (I did not use the mint)
2 limes cut into wedges
Hot, cooked Jasmine rice
1. Rinse chicken and pat dry. In a small sturdy paper bag, combine the flour, curry powder, salt and pepper. Shake well. Add the chicken pieces and shake to coat well.
2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat. Add chicken pieces. Cook 5-10 minutes (depending on size of chicken pieces) tossing occasionally to cook chicken evenly. Add the ginger, garlic, chili pepper and 1/2 cup of the chicken broth to the saucepan. Cook for 3 minutes, scraping the pan with a spatula and stirring to combine everything well.
3. Add the peanut butter, stirring quickly to incorporate it with the chicken. Add the remaining 3 1/2 cups of broth slowly, stirring continuously to maintain an even texture. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Right before serving, add the coriander and green onions. Salt to taste.
4. Serve with rice. Top each serving with fresh cilantro and mint. Squeeze a little lime juice over it as well.