It all started when my husband brought home chicken thighs for dinner, and nothing else. He was planning on marinating and grilling them, but he only bought five thighs for our family of four (including two teenagers), and had no plans for sides, except ‘I think we have stuff for salad?’. We did have some leftover hamburger buns, so I suggested making sandwiches, and, honestly? It was a great idea, and we both ended up wondering why we hadn’t been making them all along. So, I don’t know if you’ve all been holding out on me, and secretly making chicken thigh sandwiches this whole time, or what, but I know like a thousand different ways to marinate chicken, and probably a million different toppings, so chicken thigh sandwiches done all different ways are the current weeknight dinner craze over here.
For the chicken:
The marinade I used was from Barbecued Chicken, Bangkok Style, found in True Thai by Victor Sodsook. The original recipe makes enough marinade for two 3-lb. chickens, so you can halve it, depending on how much chicken you’re making.
1 can (14 oz.) unsweetened coconut milk
2 TB yellow curry paste, or 1 TB curry powder
2 TB fish sauce
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro, including stems, chopped
2 1/2 TB light brown sugar, or palm sugar
1/2 TB ground white pepper
1. Throw everything in a blender or food processor, and blend until smooth. Coat your boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the marinade (I mean, just get as many thighs as you want to eat, which is probably more than five), cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 24.
2. Prepare a grill with low coals/heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade, and cook slowly on one side with the cover off for a few minutes, and then covered for another few. Flip, and do the same thing, for a total of about 20 minutes, or until they’re done/the internal temperature reaches 165° F.
For the sauce:
AKA, your secret weapon, Sweet-and-Spicy Dipping Sauce, also from True Thai
Makes about 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 TB Chinese-style chili-garlic sauce
In a small saucepan, bring vinegar and 1/2 cup sugar to a low boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to medium and stir in the rest of the sugar. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until it comes back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add the salt. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chili-garlic sauce and remove from heat. Let cool and serve at room temperature. Go ahead and pour this stuff on anything, it’s the best.
For the peanut slaw:
I kind of just stirred together shredded cabbage and carrot, store-bought peanut sauce, lime juice, and salt, until I liked how it tasted. Then I added chopped up peanuts and cilantro. I didn’t have any scallions, but they’d probably be good, too.
For the cucumber relish/Ajaat:
There are lots of different recipes for Ajaat. This time I tried the one from Pok Pok by Andy Ricker, and it was good. It’s a little on the sweet side, though. Also, I couldn’t find any Thai chilies, or Serranos, which is what I usually substitute, so mine was made with Fresno chilies.
Makes about 2 1/4 cups
8 oz. medium, crisp, thin-skinned cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and sliced into triangles (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 oz. shallots, also quartered and sliced (abour 3/4 cup)
6 grams fresh red Thai chilies (about 4), thinly sliced
6 TB white vinegar
6 TB sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp kosher salt
Generous 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Combine the cucumbers, shallots, and chilies. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, water, and salt, until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour enough to cover over the cucumbers, and stir well. You can eat it after just a few minutes, or cover and refrigerate for up to a day. Just before serving, sprinkle with the cilantro leaves.
For the sandwiches:
Use whatever kind of sandwich roll/bun you like (we had brioche). Split and top with a chicken thigh. Drizzle with the sauce, then top with slaw and relish. You could probably toast the buns if you like, but they were fine without.
I know it’s like four different things, but they’re all very easy, and some of them you can make ahead of time if you like. And they are so good, you guys! I promise you will be glad you got on the chicken thigh sandwich bandwagon before it was cool.