THAI CHICKEN SALAD WITH SPICY PEANUT DRESSING
- 3 - 3 1/2 pound whole chicken (I use 5 boneless, skinless breasts)
- Table salt and ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice from 3 to 4 limes
- 2 tablespoons water
- 3 small cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
- 2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
- 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1 inch by 1/4-inch matchsticks (about 1 cup)
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and grated on large holes of box grater (about 1/2 cup)
- 4 scallions, white and green parts, sliced thin
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted peanuts
Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
Roast in a 375-degree oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 165 to 170 degrees, about 1 hour, 10 minutes.
When cool, pull the meat off the bones in 2-inch shreds, discarding fat and sinew.
Reserve 5 cups for this recipe; set the rest aside for another use. (The chicken can be roasted, shredded, and refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.)
Puree oil, peanut butter, lime juice, water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, garlic, ginger, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes in blender until combined. Transfer to large bowl. (Dressing may be made ahead of time, covered, and refrigerated overnight.
Whisk to recombine before using.)
Add cucumber, carrot, scallions, and cilantro to vinaigrette; toss to combine.
Add chicken and toss gently to combine; let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.
Adjust seasoning with salt and sprinkle with peanuts.
Serve immediately. (My note: This salad is great for several days of leftovers, but the veggies get soggy in the dressing. I now assemble the salad and keep the dressing separate; on the day I plan to eat it, I portion out a serving of salad and put the dressing on before I eat it so the veggies stay crisp.)
Don't dress chicken when warm--it will absorb too much dressing. For even less fuss, use fully cooked supermarket rotisserie chicken. This recipe is best served over salad greens