Few things in life are as unsexy as boneless, skinless, thinly sliced chicken breast. A pound sitting in my fridge for four days, it kept being usurped by finer, more extravagant proteins. Every time I opened that meat drawer, it was as if that chicken was sitting there wondering... could this finally be my night to shine?!
Like a leader in gym class picking my team, I kept avoiding eye contact with the skinny chicken, strategically reaching for its bigger, bolder cohorts. Halibut, pork tenderloin, a pound and a half of skirt steak...all spent a brief stint in the drawer right along side that poultry...all of which when prepared, lived up to their awesome potential!
But on day four...alas there was one...and as the chicken breast sat alone, idle in the bottom of my fridge, I swear it spoke to me...
"Sure, I may not be fancy. I may have been stripped of my skin and bones that offered such succulent flavor. I may not have originated from the cool, crisp waters of the Pacific, but I have potential damn it! With me, you are only limited by your own culinary imagination (or lack there of). So what's it gonna be woman? Are you going to make me delicious? Are you going to give me a proper showing or falter so my life was one lived in vain...my final days spent in the bottom drawer of your refrigerator - that by the way - could use a good cleaning."
The challenge called for bold flavors, vibrant colors and hints of heat to bring it all together. A caterer or entertainers dream... I like to think with this recipe...I made that chicken breast proud.
Tandoori Chicken Sandwiches (Wraps)
Bon Appétit, August 1994
6 skinless boneless chicken breast halves (obviously we used thin sliced, marinated for 5 hours and broiled in the oven approx 1.5 -2 minutes each side - awesome!)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
12 slices sourdough bread (we used wraps, but reviews online mentioned naan was perfect w/these sandwiches too!)
Indian mayonnaise (A MUST!)
1 cup packed fresh mint leaves
1 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeño chili, seeded, minced
3 tablespoons chopped onion
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup mayonnaise
Arrange boneless chicken breasts in single layer in large glass baking dish. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice: season with salt. Mix plain yogurt, chopped fresh ginger, chopped garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne pepper and turmeric in medium bowl. Pour yogurt marinade over chicken breasts and turn to coat. Cover chicken and refrigerate 3 to 8 hours.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler. Remove chicken breasts from marinade (do not wipe clean). Grill or broil chicken until just cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Cool slightly. (Chicken can be prepared up to 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
Lightly toast (or grill) sourdough bread. Spread 1 side of each piece of bread generously with Indian Spiced Mayonnaise. Slice chicken breasts diagonally. Place slices of 1 breast atop each of 6 sourdough bread slices. Top with remaining bread slices. Cut chicken sandwiches in half. Serve sandwiches warm or at room temperature.
For Mayonnaise: (YUM, YUM, YUM!!!!)
Combine 1 cup mint leaves, 1 cup cilantro leaves, minced jalapeño chili and chopped onion in work bowl of processor. Process until very finely chopped. Mix in cider vinegar. Add mayonnaise and process just until combined. Season mayonnaise to taste with salt and pepper. (Mayonnaise can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover tightly and refrigerate.) Makes about 1 scant cup.