Most of us have a pretty limited banana repertoire. We eat them straight up, baked into quick breads, pureed into smoothies, or sliced into either fruit salad or some sort of breakfast food. That's about it.
But a friend recently — if unknowingly — introduced me to the savory side of bananas, and I was completely smitten.
Sassy Latina chef Daisy Martinez loves working big, bold flavors into easy dishes. That's my style of cooking. So when she recently launched a great new web video series, I was eager to watch the first episode — a breezy walk through her take on fried chicken. I'm sure the chicken is delicious, but it was one offhand comment about a condiment that really caught my attention.
Sounds odd, yes. But I'll confess that I consider ketchup — in all its forms — to be a major food group unto itself. And I simply had to try Daisy's recipe. Turns out it is easy to make and delivers an amazing sweet and tangy punch that blew me away. Think of it as the Hispanic equivalent of Asian sweet-and-sour sauce. It totally works.
I've now used this sauce on chicken in several ways. The easiest is to simply cut up boneless, skinless chicken breasts, saute them with olive oil and onion, then dump in the sauce and just bring to a simmer. Serve this on tortillas, in buns, over rice or just straight up. But since grilling season still is going strong, I decided to create a recipe suitable for chicken on the grill.
CHICKEN KEBABS WITH CHILI-BANANA SAUCE
I like to briefly brine my chicken breasts when cooking them kebab-style. It adds flavor and keeps them from drying out.
Start to finish: 45 minutes (15 minutes active)
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3), cut into 1-inch chunks
1 1/2 bananas
1/2 cup ketchup
1 to 2 whole fresh jalapenos (for less heat, split them open and remove the seeds and ribs)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
In a large zip-close plastic bag, combine the water, salt, paprika and pepper. Close the bag and shake to blend, then add the chicken. Seal the bag, then turn to coat the chicken. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. If using wooden skewers for the kebabs, soak them in water while the chicken brines.
Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor combine the bananas, ketchup, jalapenos and vinegar. Puree until very smooth. Set aside.
When ready to cook, heat the grill to medium-high. Use an oil-soaked paper towel held with tongs to oil the grill grates.
Remove the chicken from the brine, then thread the pieces onto 4 skewers. Grill, turning regularly, until cooked through, about 12 minutes total. Using a basting brush, lightly coat the kebabs on all sides with chili-banana sauce, then grill for another minute. Transfer the kebabs to serving plates, then drizzle each with additional sauce.
Nutrition information per serving: 230 calories; 20 calories from fat (9 percent of total calories); 2 g fat (0.5 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 80 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 13 g sugar; 34 g protein; 910 mg sodium.
Daisy Martinez video: "Chicken Wing Therapy" — http://youtu.be/1d0yLhD9sIE
J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at http://www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at http://twitter.com/JM_Hirsch . Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org