The Profund Palate Of The Peanut

Surely all of you have been waiting with baited breath as the success (or lack thereof) regarding the peanut chicken from the other night. Was it a grand success? Or did my roast chicken pull the rip cord during an unfortunate crash and burn. Truth be told, it was neither really.

The first pass was neither an outstanding success nor an utter failure. The roasting of the whole chicken was enjoyable and set the stage for a pseudo-cassoulet in the upcoming days with a stock based on the leftovers. But, I will say that I underestimated the ability of the peanut sauce to absorb heat. I added what I thought was a good amount of cayenne pepper, having been unwilling to venture to an untold number of supermarkets as I hunted for Thai chile peppers in small town Okanagan Valley. This almost proved to be the undoing of the entire dish.

The first serving was tender and creamy, but decidedly bland, especially with the flavorless rice noodles cutting what little zip there was. So, I decided to experiment with what was left in my bowl, adding more heat in the form of cayenne, plus a little spice from some other ingredients. This improved the overall balance tremendously, proving Jeffrey Steingarten correct in his assessment that Thai food can absorb a lot of heat without becoming overwhelmingly hot. So, back to the stove where I spiced up the leftovers in preparation for refrigeration. Note to self: coconut milk balances a lot of pepper.

Today was a leftover day, with the remnants of a beet salad (a staple that I have dialed in now – beets, walnuts, equal amount of dressing as amount of walnuts – divided equally between flax seed oil and apple cider vinegar, goat cheese (one day I will have a deep fryer and will do these as croquettes), and arugula. Feel free to redo the levels according to your preference for each. We like things beety around here.

After finishing off the beets, I returned the chicken, and I added some leftover chicken curry salad (only few tablespoons) just to finish it off. I then decided to add some curry powder to the peanut sauce, browned it all a bit in some oil, and then put a LOT less rice noodles in, the usual topping of scallion greens, mung bean sprouts, and lime juice, and put it all on top of mixed lettuce. This was really what I should have made the first night. Success.

Now, let’s see how the cassoulet turns out. No duck confit, but I’m hoping it will be adequate with just some chicken-turkey sausage. Cassoulet light, as it were. Ah, eating. I think it may be the best reason to train.

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