CHICKEN SATAY SKEWERS
Again, using Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals cookbook, chicken satay skewers are perfect picnic food. Attempting to eat a meal outdoors with knives, forks and plates would certainly prove impractical; the use of the skewer stick here provides happy munching, widely avoiding the removal of grass and insects from your plate!
This satay skewer paste has a wonderful smell: its aroma is released as soon as the blender stops, circulating fresh lime and spice from the chilies, with a sweet nuttiness from the peanut butter. The paste is massaged into the chicken, allowing the flavours to permeate the meat during the cooking period, ensuring the finished product is evenly coated in flavour. However, for the paste stays on the meat, the consistency has to be spot-on. It is important to monitor its viscosity, adding water if the paste seems too thick, or a tiny bit more peanut butter if it is too runny. This means the chicken will wholly soak up the satay paste, and unlike my first attempt, won’t have to resort to having ‘satay crumbs’ served alongside the chicken!
- Into a food processor, add the ground coriander seeds, ginger, peeled whole garlic, the peanut butter and the soy sauce. Take the lime, and grate the zest into the processor. Slice the zested lime in half, and squeeze in the juice.
- Add a small splash of water, and blitz to a spoonable paste. Here, check the consistency of the paste to ensure it will coat the chicken evenly! If it is too thick, add more water; too runny, add more peanut butter.
- Line the chicken breasts up on a chopping board, alternating the ends. Carefully push the skewers through the breasts – horizontally, ensuring the skewer goes through each chicken breast as they are laid out vertically.
- Slice down in between each skewer so that you have 4 kebabs. Thread any stray pieces of chicken back on the skewers! Score it lightly on both sides, to give a crispy texture after cooking.
- Take the satay paste, and scoop it into a roasting tray. Add the chicken skewers to the tray, and massage the paste into the meat to ensure it soaks up the nutty infused flavours of garlic, chili and lime! Drizzle with olive oil, and grill for 8 to 10 minutes each side.
- Half way through the cooking process of the chicken (after the first 10 minutes), before turning, drizzle the skewers with runny honey. After the second lot of 10 minutes, drizzle the remaining side of the skewers with honey, and replace in the grill for a final 5 minutes to ensure they are cooked through.
- Allow to cool, wrap in foil, and place in the hamper!
I found this recipe on the ‘Delicious’ food magazine website, and thought it an ideal vegetarian option for a picnic! Although original recipe advocates serving the mozzarella balls with roasted vegetables and a fuller salad, with the intention of being a main meal, adapting this to a simply dressed salad makes it more accessible for outdoor enjoyment.
For the best flavour, I would absolutely recommend using as many fresh ingredients as possible – lemon zest could not be substituted for lemon juice due to the undesired liquid it would bring, but dried thyme and dried chili could easily be used in lieu. Although this would not have negative consequences in terms of taste, it is undeniable that the flavour of fresh chili and fresh thyme cannot be beaten – the smell of the breadcrumbs alone supports this, as zesty aromas fill the kitchen, with a notable fragrance from the thyme. The culminated essence of these ingredients is far stronger, and far more appetising, when fresh ingredients are used over dried.
The biggest tip given that makes this dish, however, is the instruction to double dip the mozzarella balls in the breadcrumbs. This forms a thicker outer coating, which once deep-fried, produces a crispy shell that characterises the dish, protecting the soft and stringy cheese inside. Moreover, in using this for picnic grazing, the extra layer of breadcrumbs will help keep these snacks intact as they are transported from home to outdoors!
- 100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
- The zest of 1 lemon
- 1 red chili, deseeded, and finely sliced
- Fresh thyme leaves, to taste
- 50g plain flour
- 2 eggs
- 150g baby mozzarella balls
- Fresh rocket
- Fresh pea shoots
- In a medium sized bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with the thyme leaves, chili slices and the lemon zest. Season, and stir well to combine. In a smaller bowl, sieve the flour; in a final bowl, whisk the eggs.
- Remove the mozzarella balls from their packaging – drain them, and pat them dry. Roll them firstly in the flour, then dip them in the egg, before rolling in the breadcrumbs. To create a thicker layer of flavour, and a crisper shell, dip the breaded mozzarella ball back in the egg, and then again into the breadcrumbs.
- Repeat this method for each mozzarella ball, placing each onto a piece of kitchen towel.
- In a container, place the peashoots and rocket. Dress immediately before serving the with olive oil and lemon juice – do not do this before you set out for the picnic, as it will cause the salad to go limp!
- Fill half a medium saucepan with olive oil, and heat. Keep the heat medium, and using a slotted spoon lower each mozzarella ball into the oil, being careful to ensure the hot oil does not splash or spit.
- Deep fry each mozzarella ball until golden brown – this should take around 4 minutes. Remove each breaded mozzarella, and place back on the kitchen towel, allowing the excess fat to run off.
- When complete, store the mozzarella balls in a container, and put in the hamper! Once you have arrived at your al fresco destination, place the breaded cheese amongst the dressed salad, and enjoy!