So let’s just tally up the damage done from one long weekend with the North Carolina Mayhews and the Tennessee Harbins, shall we?
From Friday night to Sunday night, six adults and one 3-year-old consumed: Bagel Bites, pigs in a blanket, taquitos, mini-tacos (with salsa and sour cream, of course), breakfast casserole, waffle sticks, bacon, venison quesadillas, chicken tetrazzini, yeast rolls (buttered, naturally), salad (how did that get on this list?), Cheetos (both crunchy and not), tortilla chips, bacon and cheese bruschetta, cookies (chocolate chip, white chocolate and macadamia nut, oatmeal raisin and sugar), ice cream and funnel cake. And that’s not counting the fried shrimp po’boy and red beans and rice Mark and I had at lunch out one day or the burger with chili and slaw we ate on the way home at Cook Out in Knoxville.
It comes as no surprise to this reporter that at least the Tennessee Mayhews were due for a little systemic cleansing. On the long ride home, I settled in with the latest issue of Bon Appetit and found just what we needed: Chef Dale Talde’s recipe for Chicken Sausage Lettuce Wraps. Tasty and guilt-free.
I usually hate ground chicken. I think it just tastes like nothing and the consistency is a little scary, too. But when you dress it up with fish sauce, oyster sauce, chiles and shallots, it transforms into something quite delicious.
A quick word about fish sauce. You need it. Think of it as the Asian equivalent of Worcestershire sauce. A few drops added to a salad dressing, sauce or stew elevates the flavor through the roof. And do you know what makes Thai food taste like Thai food? Fish sauce. Embrace it. It’s in the Asian section of almost every supermarket on the planet.
Get Chef Talde’s recipe here or just use the one below, which is entirely his and for which, sadly, I cannot take an ounce of credit. We did, however, add some chopped peanuts to the dish just because we could.
For the record, the recipe says this serves 4-6 but that is a complete fabrication. Mark and I ate the entire batch.
Chicken Sausage Lettuce Wraps (by Dale Talde, Talde restaurant in Brooklyn)
4 tablespoons fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam), divided
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons sugar
1 Thai chile or ½ serrano chile, with seeds, minced, divided
1 pound ground chicken, preferably dark meat
1/2 cup minced shallots (about 2 large)
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
1 head Bibb or romaine lettuce, leaves separated
Thinly sliced scallion (optional)
Combine 2 tablespoons fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, half of chile and seeds, and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Whisk to blend; set dipping sauce aside.
Combine remaining 2 tablespoons fish sauce, remaining chile and seeds, chicken, shallots, oyster sauce, flour, and garlic in a medium bowl; mix until all ingredients are evenly incorporated. Using damp hands (to prevent the chicken mixture from sticking to your hands while forming the patties), shape chicken sausage mixture into eight 3″-diameter patties (scant 2 1/2 oz. each). Place patties on a plate. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a medium heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 chicken sausage patties and cook until browned and cooked through, 3–4 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil and 4 patties.
Wrap each patty in a lettuce leaf. Garnish with sliced scallion, if using. Serve wraps with dipping sauce.