If you tend to think of peanut butter primarily as an ingredient to slather onto soft bread with jelly, or for eating by the spoonful out of the jar (guilty as charged — though I don’t double-dip), pairing peanut butter with chicken and other savory elements might strike you as unusual. However, there is a worldwide precedent for using the spread in such dishes.
In Ecuador, a warm, cumin-and-onion-infused peanut sauce is served drizzled over potato cakes; peanut butter is stirred into West African chicken soup and stew to add creamy body and nutrition; and Southeast Asian cuisine boasts the mouthwatering satay sauce, a tangy-spicy-savory peanut sauce, for dipping skewered meats.
That dipping sauce — and my general love of peanut butter — inspired this exciting sandwich, where simply grilled chicken is piled onto whole-grain bread, then smothered luxuriously with the boldly flavorful sauce before being layered with crisp, colorful vegetables — sliced cucumber, grated carrot and fresh spinach leaves. While it’s not a true satay sauce, it hits similar notes with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. To make it, simply stir the ingredients together in a bowl until creamy and incorporated. As this sauce can be made several days ahead and refrigerated, as can the chicken, the resulting sandwiches make for a thrilling, satisfying meal at a moment’s notice.
Chicken Satay Sandwiches
Active: 15 minutes | Total: 25 minutes
Make ahead: The chicken may be made up to four days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
For the sauce
2 tablespoons creamy, natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
For the chicken
4 pieces chicken cutlets or thin-cut chicken breast, 4 to 5 ounces each
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
8 slices whole-grain bread (1 ounce each)
1/4 large English cucumber, thinly sliced (4 ounces)
1/2 cup coarsely grated carrot
1 cup baby spinach leaves
Make the sauce: In a small bowl, vigorously stir the peanut butter, water, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, ginger, curry paste and Sriracha until the mixture is well combined and creamy.
Make the chicken: Brush both sides of the chicken cutlets with the oil, and season with salt and pepper.
In a hot grill pan over medium high heat, add the chicken and cook until just cooked through and grill marks have formed, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and sprinkle with the lime juice.
Make the sandwiches: Slice the chicken against the grain. To make a sandwich, top a slice of bread with a quarter of the chicken slices, drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of the peanut sauce, then layer with sliced cucumber, carrot and spinach before closing the sandwich with another piece of bread. Repeat to make 4 sandwiches and serve right away.