Kevin has been away these past few days, and his absence has reminded that while I love to cook, I don’t so much like cooking for 1. Mostly, because it seems like a whole lot of effort for just me. A psychologist may want to delve deeper into this thought; perhaps I feel I am unworthy of a healthy home cooked meal, but the reality is that I enjoy the temporary freedom from meal planning and the need to have something more substantial than a sandwich or bowl of noodles on the table every night.
Which is why, in the past 2 weeks I have eaten Ramen Noodles for dinner at least 3 times! Yikes, I do love ramen, but I reluctantly had to admit last night that I had eaten too much of it for my own good.
So, I took a break from sloth and convenience, and actually cooked dinner for one. It is obvious that my plating needs work, but aside from its lonely appearance on the plate, my one-pan dinner was extremely satisfying.
Peri Peri Chicken Thighs with Peanut-Lime Sauce and Fried Plantain
1 Tablespoon cooking oil, plus more for frying the plantains
4 chicken thighs
1 teaspoon Peri Peri spice blend (or more to taste, see cooks notes)
2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice ( from about 1 large or 3 Mexican limes)
2 Tablespoons water
1 green plantain, cut into 1″ slices
Sour cream to top the fried plantains
Heat 1 Tablespoon of oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Rinse and pat chicken dry with paper towel. Sprinkle with Peri Peri spice on both sides and put in pan, skin side down. Cook 15 minutes, then turn chicken over. Reduce heat to low and cook about 20 minutes more until thermometer inserted into centre of thigh reads 175. Cooking time will vary, depending on size of the thighs. Remove from pan to plate and tent with foil. Set aside.
Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix peanut butter, lime juice and water together. Mixture will seize at first, keep stirring until it becomes liquid and creamy again. Add more water by teaspoons if mixture it too thick. It should be runny, but not soupy. Set aside.
Put a paper towel on a clean plate and set aside. Add more oil to pan to depth of 1/2 inch and heat over medium heat until shiny, but not smoking. Using tongs, carefully place plantain slices flat in the oil. Fry about 2 minutes and carefully turn over and cook 2 minutes more to brown the other side. Remove from oil to paper towel lined plate.
Reduce heat under oil to low while you do this next step, and work quickly. Place the fried plantain pieces between 2 sheets of waxed paper and using a meat mallet or the flat bottom of a glass press gently to flatten each piece to a thickness of about 1/3 inch. (Be gentle, you want to just squish them, so they will still be soft and chewy in the inside, not flatten them beyond recognition. )
Increase heat under oil, until it shimmers again, and with the tongs, gently place each flattened plantain in the oil and re-fry for about 3 minutes, until they are golden. Remove from oil, back onto paper towel lined plate.
Put a smear of peanut butter sauce on the place, add chicken and plantains, some radishes or other fresh veggie on the side, a little sour cream for the plantains and you have a dinner for 1 ready in under an hour.
Bonus: for me, the leftover chicken thighs are going into a chicken salad for tomorrow nights dinner.
COOKS NOTES – depending on the brand of Peri Peri you have, and your personal taste, the amount you use will vary. I used 1 teaspoon of Silk Road Inferno Peri Peri blend, for all 4 thighs and found it very tame so I sprinkled more onto the chicken after it was cooked. Remember, you can always add spice, but you cant always take it out.