Friday, February 18, 2011
Cashew and Cilantro Pesto Chicken
Cilantro/coriander used to be my biggest enemy when I was a kid. There was something about the strange, earthy and almost spicy flavor that scares my taste buds. I would remove them from soups and chicken rice dishes, tucking them into a corner hoping someone will take them away.
As I got older my taste buds matured, they became sexier. Eating cilantro now becomes a pleasurable experience. It is like reuniting with the earth again because I swear, it tastes like soil. In case you are wondering, there is beauty in soil. Wine connoisseurs will tell you that.
Cilantro and chicken go hand in hand. At least that's what I realized from eating chicken rice throughout my entire life. Today I made spicy, garlicky cashew chicken with tonnes of cilantro from a beautiful cookbook by Melissa Clark. It was delicious. Try it at home. Enjoy.
adapted from A Good Appetite by Melissa Clark
1 cup roasted salted cashew nuts
6 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, with some stems
1/4 cup safflower or olive oil
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges for garnish
1 to 2 jalapeno peppers or green chilies
sea salt and black pepper
3 lbs chicken thighs and/or drumsticks
- In a blender or food processor, combine nuts, 2 tbsp cilantro, oil, garlic, soy, sugar, lime juice, jalapeno, and 2 tbsp water. Blend until smooth. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired.
- Season chicken all over with salt and pepper. Smear on enough cashew mixture to coat chicken pieces thoroughly. Let marinate at room temperature while you heat the grill or broiler. Or refrigerate for up to 12 hours before cooking.
- Preheat broiler or grill. Grill or broil chicken, turning frequently, until it's crisp and golden on the outside and done on the inside(cut a small nick, if the juices come out clear, it's ready), about 20 to 30 mins.
- Sprinkle chicken with remaining 4 tbsp of cilantro and serve with lime wedges and remaining cashew mixture.