Chicken Lettuce Wraps
I fell in love with lettuce wraps back in college when my friend Ashley and I would stop at The Cheesecake Factory in Baltimore a couple times a year when we were driving back home from school. We’d always start with the lettuce wraps, then go on to order and finish two HUGE entrees and then wash it down with cheesecake. Needless to say, my stomach grew during that time and so did my pant size.
As I got older, I was introduce to the PF Changs version of lettuce wraps/cups with the diced chicken. I stayed true to my heart and only really liked the Cheesecake Factory version with the chicken STRIPS. No dice for me.
Those lettuce wraps always stood out in my mind and for years I’ve been meaning to make them at home. But for some reason, I never made it happen until the other night. I’d been craving them all summer and knew I had to do something about it!
I went to the store and bought my favorite veggies to put inside the wraps. Then I found sustainably grown, hormone-free chicken and red butter lettuce to use as my wraps.
Since I’m usually not thinking ahead to find a recipe first and THEN go to the store to make sure I have everything, I just use what I already have in the kitchen and hope for the best. The only thing I really needed help with was the peanut sauce. I think The Cheesecake Factory had 3 dipping sauces, but I was satisfied with just making one.
Here’s what you’ll need: (Feel free to make this your own)
- red bell pepper (sliced into strips)
- red onion (or green)
- jicama (peeled & sliced into strips)
- carrots (julienned)
- chicken breast (or tempeh, tofu, or just veggies)
- butter lettuce, iceberg- anything with a large leaf that’s sturdy
- cilantro- lightly chopped
First, I marinated the chicken for 1-2 hours in the fridge with low sodium soy sauce, olive oil, red wine vinegar, fresh grated ginger, sesame oil and a few cloves of minced garlic. That’s all I had in the house and I just “winged it.” I planned on just baking or sauteing the chicken, but my wonderful husband offered to grill it. Even better!
Then I came across the most delicious, EASY peanut sauce recipe from Food Network’s website that hands down, made the meal. I, of course, didn’t have all the ingredients but I made do and was not disappointed. Here’s the actual recipe:
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons red chili paste, such as sambal
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 limes, juiced
- 1/2 cup hot water
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, for garnish
Combine the peanut butter, soy sauce, red chili paste, brown sugar, and lime juice in a food processor or blender. Puree to combine. While the motor is running, drizzle in the hot water to thin out the sauce, you may not need all of it. Pour the sauce into a nice serving bowl and garnish with the chopped peanuts. Serve with chicken satay. (Tyler FLorence, food network)
I didn’t have chili paste, so I just CAREFULLY threw in some red chili flakes ( I didn’t want to repeat the “Hottest Dinner Party Ever” nightmare) and I used regular brown sugar because I didn’t have dark. I barely used the hot water and that was plenty…so go slow when you’re adding that.
Finally, my dreams from over 10 years ago finally came true. I made my favorite kind of lettuce wraps and I couldn’t get enough. I had them again for lunch the following 2 days! I have no idea why it took me so long to make this healthy, simple, tasty dish but I know it will be a staple in my kitchen roledex. Thank you Food Network for the peanut sauce recipe!