Improvised sauce adds Thai zest to cutlets

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A few years ago I created a recipe for a killer barbecue sauce. It was exactly the way I like it — thick, rich, a lot savory, a little sweet and bursting with cumin, smoked paprika and many other delicious seasonings.

Like most homemade barbecue sauces, it’s much better than anything you can buy. And yet I hardly ever make it.

Admittedly, it’s because I am lazy and generally short on time. So I usually just reach for a bottle of whatever brand is handy and make do with that.

Until recently, when I reached into the cabinet and discovered we were out. Worse yet, we didn’t have the ingredients to make my usual recipe.

I did, however, have a jar of Thai red curry paste, a Southeast Asian seasoning. Red curry paste is a delicious mash of red chilies, coriander roots and leaves, shrimp paste, lemon grass, garlic, shallots and galangal (a relative of ginger). It smells both tomatoey and exotically heady with spicy aromas.

That night, all I did was thin it with water until it had a barbecue sauce consistency, then I tossed chicken in it and slapped it on the grill. It was crazy good. The next night, I tried it again. But that time I doctored it a bit, bringing it just a bit closer to traditional barbecue sauce.

I mixed the curry paste with water, peanut butter and lime juice. That’s it. It was incredible, tasting equal parts spicy barbecue sauce and peanut satay. I’ve since used the same sauce on beef, chicken and turkey. It even would be good mixed into ground beef or turkey.

THAI PEANUT BARBECUE TURKEY CUTLET BURGERS

Start to finish: 30 minutes

Servings: 6

½ cup mayonnaise

1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste

Zest and juice of 1 lime

12-ounce package shredded broccoli slaw mixture

Salt and ground black pepper

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