When I was in college, I logged many hours in classes, rehearsals, and practice rooms in the conservatory at Lawrence University. A small, liberal arts college located on the bluffs of the Fox River in Appleton, Wisconsin (I’m pretty sure that’s how the brochure read), Lawrence also sat on the eastern end of downtown Appleton. For a couple of years I lived in one of the residence halls that sat on the very edge of campus, and every day I’d trudge my way to the conservatory, passing right alongside the Taste of Thai restaurant. The smells that drifted out of that building were often boastful of food much more satisfying than what I was to be eating at the cafeteria (aptly named Downer Commons). On a tight college budget, I didn’t get to eat there often, as convenient as it was (my friends and I often walked a couple blocks further for 50-cent loaves of day-old bread and pickles at Erbert & Gerbert’s Subs). But what I remember of Taste of Thai was really good.
Thai cuisine doesn’t make it into my meal rotation very often. Okay, it’s pretty much non-existent. I guess I just haven’t ventured there. But when I began planning meals for the month of August, I happened to come across a recipe in my slow-cooker cookbook for Thai Chicken. Now, with a name like that, I was figuring this dish wouldn’t be authentic, but it would be stretching my repertoire a bit. It was also using the slow cooker, thus saving me some time and a little heat and energy in what could be a hot August day. The picture also had a cameo appearance by some pretty nice-looking snap peas. I knew the snap peas in my garden would be ready in mid-August and I figured I could probably find some cilantro hanging on at the tail end of the herb’s life this season, so why not? Onto the menu it went.
It was a really easy meal to prep and the results were good. Not at all authentic, but something definitely beyond the usual. It was even better as leftovers a couple of days later when everything was mixed together. The recipe calls for hot salsa; I had an open jar of mild, so that’s what I used. I will definitely reach for at least medium salsa the next time around — it needs a touch of heat to liven it up. The recipe also calls for chicken pieces. I chose drumsticks, thighs, and a boneless skinless chicken breast. The dark meat was definitely flavorful; the bones were a bit of a hassle since the chicken fell off anyway. If you can use boneless skinless chicken thighs, I think that’s the way to go. Then you can simply shred the chicken into the sauce and serve it over the rice.
It may not be Taste of Thai by any stretch of the imagination, but I can guarantee it was easy and a lot better than any cafeteria food. Better than bread and pickles, too. :)
from Rival Crock-Pot’s Best-Loved Slow Cooker Recipes
- 2-1/2 pounds chicken pieces
- 1 cup hot salsa
- 1/4 cup peanut butter
- 2 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. minced fresh ginger (I used 1/2 tsp. ground ginger; it worked, though fresh would be better)
- hot cooked rice
- 1/2 cup peanuts, chopped
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
- Place chicken in Crock-Pot slow cooker. Combine salsa, peanut butter, lime juice, soy sauce, and ginger; pour over chicken.
- Cover; cook on LOW 8 to 9 hours or on HIGH 3 to 4 hours, or until chicken is no longer pink in center.
- Serve chicken and sauce over rice; sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro.