Monday, May 21, 2012

May Secret Recipe Club: Chicken and Pineapple Skewers with Kecap Manis Sauce from The Cafe Sucre Farine

It's that time again...time for another fun and exciting Secret Recipe Club reveal! Taking part in this group is one of my most-favorite blogging events each month, because I get to visit a fantastic blog and share a fabulous recipe from it with you...and the rest of my SRC participants. This month, I was assigned a fantastic blog that I always enjoy reading: The Cafe Sucre Farine!! I have to say that I feel like Chris and I might be long-lost foodie soul sisters. She cooks with layers of big flavors and likes to feature unique ingredient combinations, which is a cooking approach that is near and dear to my heart. To say I had a hard time picking just one recipe to feature this month would be an understatement.

After nearly two weeks of looking over every yummy recipe on this blog, I had finally decided to make a batch of some yummy Salted Toffee Pecan Squares to share with my officemates. And then? I saw a post earlier this week that immediately grabbed my attention: Chris used kecap manis -- a new-to-me ingredient -- in an Asian sauce that was brushed over simple chicken and pineapple skewers and grilled. For the uninitiated, kecap manis is a sweet-thick Indonesian soy sauce that's reminiscent of teriyaki...but more savory. Based on her glowing review of this magical ingredient, I knew that I had to change my plans and make these Kecap Manis Grilled Chicken & Fresh Pineapple Kabobs. I immediately ran out to my local Asian market during my lunch break to pick up a bottle so I could make this recipe. Where has this ingredient been all my life? 

Kecap manis is the main ingredient in the flavorful sauce that's brushed on skewers of seasoned chicken breast and fresh pineapple as they grill. I cooked these indoors using a grill pan, but feel free to fire up some charcoal to add a smoky dimension to this dish. I only made two tweaks to Chris's sauce: I forgot to pick up orange marmalade, so I subbed in raspberry jam that I had in the kitchen. I also thought that the it called for sriracha, so I bought a bottle when I was at the Asian market. I later discovered the recipe didn't call for this spicy condiment...but I went ahead and added some to the sauce since we love our food spicy!

Chicken and Pineapple Skewers with Kecap Manis Sauce
adapted from The Cafe Sucre Farine

Step 1:  Add 1 tbs. olive oil and 1 tsp. lemon pepper to a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add 1 lb. chicken breast cut into chunks and toss to combine. Cut pieces of fresh pineapple into chunks that are close in size to the chicken breast. Alternate the chicken and pineapple on wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for about 15 minutes.

Step 2:  Make the grill sauce by combining the following ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat: 1/2 cup kecap manis, 2 tbs. raspberry jam (or orange marmalade), 1 tbs. olive oil, and 1 tbs. sriracha (optional). Whisk to combine, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until slightly thickened. Add 1 tbs. lime juice (about half a large lime) and whisk to combine. Pour into a ramekin and let cool for about 15 minutes while the skewers hang out in the fridge.

Note: I made a half batch of skewers for the two of us, but made the full batch of this flavorful sauce so I would have extra on hand to use later this week!

Step 3:  When you're ready to cook the skewers, fire up your grill. Or just do what I did: heat an oiled cast-iron grill pan over med-high heat for five minutes. Add the skewers to the pan and cook, brushing with the kecap manis sauce as you cook and flip. This sweet sauce can go from caramelized to burned in an instant, so keep a close eye on the skewers and flip them often. The cooking time for my skewers was bout 8-10 minutes, but could vary depending on how large your chunks of pineapple and chicken are. 

Step 4:  Serve the skewers with your favorite rice dish on the side. I whipped up some jasmati rice that I cooked in chicken broth and a squeeze of sriricha. After it cooked, I added some coconut, chopped cashews, and cilantro for flavor and color. I served the rice in the bottom of individual flat ramekin dishes with two skewers laid on top.

This dish was so flavorful...and really quick to make. The kecap manis sauce was sweet, savory, and spicy at the same time: an addictive combo! I had never grilled pineapple before, but I'm now a big fant...the heat of the grill pan gave it almost a caramel background flavor. The chicken cooked up moist and delicious from the one-two punch of pineapple juice and basting with the flavorful sauce. I whipped up the rice spur-of-the-moment based on what was in the kitchen that I thought would compliment the skewers. The coconut and cashews played very nicely alongside these skewers. I will definitely make this again...and I'm thinking that chunks of pork tenderloin would work really nicely here too!

Make sure you go by Chris's fantastic that I've been outed, I'll be able to start posting comments instead of sneaking around in stealth mode! I know that I'll be a regular visitor...and that I'll be making many more of her recipes in my kitchen. 

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