If you haven’t had Pad Thai, you are missing out. It’s an amazing blend of citrus, peanut flavor, and spice. And this recipe takes that idea and puts it on a stick (what’s better than a stick I ask you?) and adds a touch of sweetness with some fruit. Make sure apricots or another stone fruit are in season (like peaches or plums), as dried fruit just won’t work (what I tested in the photo). The dried fruit doesn’t exactly soften up and doesn’t really absorb any of the flavor. So go fresh if you can.
The wooden skewers need to soak for at least two hours to cut down on them burning. The longer you soak, the less singed they’ll become. Just throw some tap water into a large lasagna pan (13×9), throw the wooden skewers in, and then weigh them down with a bowl or plate. You’ll also need to marinade the chicken for at least 3 hours, so plan ahead. But once you marinade them, this dinner is a cinch to pull together.
Timing: 40 minutes plus marinating time
- 4 chicken breasts, cut into large 1-inch chunks
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (whole fat – none of that diet stuff)
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
- 5 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/4 cup cilantro or parsley leaves, plus more for garnish if you want to get fancy
- 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno (add more/less and the seeds/no seeds depending on taste)
- 12 firm ripe small apricots, halved and pitted
- 1/4 cup slightly salted, dry-roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
- 2 limes, cut into wedges for garnish
- Salt and Pepper
Start your marinade. Mix together the yogurt, coconut milk, peanut butter, lime juice, brown sugar and garlic until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, add the jalapeno and cilantro/parsley leaves and blend. If you add more herbage, it will turn the marinade a bit green, but you’re still ok! Taste and adjust seasoning (I would suggest holding back some of the jalapeno to see how spicy the pepper you picked up is and to adjust to your spice level). Set aside 1/2 cup of the marinade for a sauce. Add chicken to the remaining marinade and place in plastic blag. Place both in the fridge. Marinade for at least 3 hours (doing it the morning you want to cook it for dinner is the BEST time frame I’ve found. I know most people are usually crazy busy in the morning, so if you pre-make the marinade and pre-chop your chicken and then just combine them in the morning, it takes all of 5 minutes. If you do it overnight, make sure your pieces of chicken are a bit larger, otherwise the marinade makes the chicken too mushy for that long of time).
Now you must choose your cooking method. I hate grilling, so I turn the broiler on high (500 degrees). I make grates out of rolled up tinfoil so that the skewers don’t sit on the pan and get soggy. Just roll up three pieces of tinfoil into cylinders and space out on the sheetpan. Spray pan and foil with non-stick spray. This is a great idea if you don’t have a broiler pan (the one with slats that sits over a large pan) and you aren’t grilling so that air flow can get under the meat and stay dry. If you want to grill, heat a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or turn your gas grill on to high. Let any of your options pre-heat while you put together your skewers.
I like to use two skewers at a time for added stability (especially if you are grilling). Drop your apricot halves into the marinade bag while your oven or grill is preheating. Thread one to two pieces of chicken for each apricot half. Place on your pan propped on the tin foil cylinders or on a plate. Season with salt and pepper. Discard the remainder of the marinade (saving that good stuff you set aside in the fridge without chicken). Grill for 3-4 minutes on each side until browned. Flip and cook for same amount of time. Set aside to a cooler part of the grill for 2-3 minutes more. If using the broiler, broil for about 5-6 minutes before flipping and cooking for another 5-6. Don’t freak out about the chicken being raw. You cut it small enough to cook through in this time and the marinade also cooks it a bit while it sits during the marinade time. The marinade also helps keep it moist if you tend to overcook your meats.
Garnish with the lime wedges, chopped peanuts, and parsley/cilantro sprigs. Let your guests do all the work in de-skewering – it’s fun and the presentation looks cooler. Leftovers keep really well too!