Growing up I was never that into the idea of frozen meats. My mom would pull out what I thought was a questionable item from the depths of the freezer and my sister and I would likely turn our noses up at the concept. Oh, how times have changed! Little did I know frozen proteins are not only amazingly economical and time-saving, but can be just as delicious as their non-frozen counterparts. Kids can be such jerks sometimes, they don't know a delicious dinner when they see one!
Sometime around my last round of the Whole30 I discovered a local farm in Temecula called, Primal Pastures who deliver pasture-raised meats right to your doorstep, flash frozen and shipped on dry ice. I thought I'd give their "Farmer's Stash" subscription box a try, and I've been a member ever since! If you think about it, quality frozen meats can be fresher than fresh. Primal Pastures freezes their meat at the time of slaughter, so it's not being shipped off to a facility to sit before it's packaged up and sold to a distributor, who sells it to a grocer, who ships it to the store, and sells it to you. I'd much rather buy directly from a family farm! So once a month I get a 10 lb box of whatever's in stock from whole chickens, to prime cuts of beef, pork, bone broth, and even honey, all raised on a farm located and hour or so from my house!
Most weeknights I go "shopping" in my own freezer and get to pick from a wide variety of dinner options for the next day. I pull out whatever calls to me and place it in my refrigerator for the next night. Doing so holds me accountable to actually cook the next night instead of bailing after yoga class and calling takeout instead. (Okay, sometimes that happens too...)
I find this method fun and I get 24 hours to dream up how I am going to prepare the next night's protein. Sometimes I consult with my mother-in-law when I run out of ideas. "What would you do with ground chicken?" I might ask. How about Thai-style lettuce cups with peanut sauce she'll chime in. (My MIL is a really great home-cook!) So that's how I came up with this recipe below.
Thank's for the inspiration, Suzie! This is weeknight cooking at its finest. Crisp butter lettuce cups filled with gingery lemongrass minced chicken, topped with crunchy fresh veggies and peanut sauce, simple, healthy and oh so good!
Thai-Style Chicken Lettuce Cups with Peanut Sauce
1 head butter lettuce or iceberg lettuce
2 lbs ground chicken or ground turkey would be good too
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2-inch knuckle of fresh ginger, minced about 2 tablespoons
1 large lemongrass stalk, trimmed and minced about 3 tablespoons
1 8 oz can of sliced water chestnuts, drained
3 tablespoons soy sauce or coconut aminos, or more to taste
1 tablespoon fish sauce
carrots, julienned for garnish
green onion, chopped for garnish
radishes, sliced thin for garnish
fresh ground pepper to taste
For the Peanut Sauce
4 tablespoons creamy peanut butter or sunflower seed butter for a non-legume version
1 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos
1 tablespoon honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ginger, minced
2 tablespoons cool water or more depending on how thin you'd like the sauce
Begin by sautéing the sesame oil, garlic, shallot, ginger and lemongrass over medium heat until the onion begins to turn translucent.
Add in the ground chicken, stir with a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the bigger pieces. Sauté until the chicken is cooked through and crumbly. Add in the sliced water chestnuts. Season with soy sauce, fish sauce, and freshly ground pepper to taste.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the peanut sauce. In a small bowl combine all of the above sauce ingredients and whisk together with a fork until fully combined. If the sauce is too thick, add more cool water to thin it out.
Assemble the lettuce cups by spooning the chicken mixture into a lettuce leaf, garnish with carrots, radish and green onion, drizzle with peanut sauce dressing.
Side dish ideas include steamed rice and Shishito peppers blistered in a cast iron skillet and topped with Furikake. See below for steps.
Blistered Shishito Peppers
2 tablespoons avocado oil or other high-heat oil
3 cups whole shishito peppers or Padrón chiles
Furikake (Japanese rice seasonings) or flaky salt is good too
Heat oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Cook peppers, tossing occasionally until they begin to blister on all sides. Sprinkle with furikake or salt, serve immediately.