Every other Thursday, we bring you Nicholas Day—on cooking for children, and with children, and despite children. Also, occasionally, on top of.
Today: A chicken dinner that tastes like success—for both the young and the not so young.
Deep within The Breakfast Book, in the glorious “Doughnuts and Fritters” chapter, there is this unimprovable recipe heading: “Dewey Buns are plump squares of light dough filled with vanilla cream. A Dewey Bun business could make someone rich.”
So a couple of things:
1) I regret to say that this is not a column about Dewey Buns. I have never even made the recipe for Dewey Buns, in part because of this recipe heading. What if I made Dewey Buns and realized I had no choice but to found a wildly profitable Dewey Bun business? Every time I read the Dewey Bun recipe I think, but am I ready to upend my life?
2) "A Dewey Bun business could make someone rich" is exactly how I feel about this Thai grilled chicken recipe.
Even if there is no Dewey Bun food truck, there should really be a truck serving nothing but the Thai grilled chicken from Hot Sour Salty Sweet by Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford. The truck part is optional, really. A Weber set up off the sidewalk would be enough to make someone rich. This, a beer, a curb to sit on: Only an ingrate could want more.
You take your chicken, coat it with a classic cilantro root-garlic-black pepper paste, let it sit for a bit, grill it. Dip it in a radiant, easy-peasy, sweet-spicy sauce. Sigh a lot.
This is the sort of recipe that’s highly adaptable for small humans, as long as you’re willing to be shamelessly untraditional. Just cut down on the pepper in the paste or the chili flakes and garlic in the dipping sauce. I’d highly recommend making a full-strength version too, though; it hardly takes any more time. And once your new business is up and running, let me know where I can find you.
For the peppercorn-cilantro root paste:
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons cilantro roots, chopped
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon fish sauce
For the grilled chicken with sweet and hot dipping sauce:
1/2 cup rice or cider vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons fish sauce
3 pounds chicken parts, cut into 10 to 12 pieces total
Photos by James Ramson