The secret to easy summer entertaining is a make-ahead meal that each person can customize to their own tastes. Inspired by Malaysian-style satay, these lettuce cups are perfect for a crowd. They start with chicken skewers coated in a fragrant paste of lemongrass, turmeric, brown sugar and cayenne. While they marinate, you can prepare the tangy peanut sauce and crispy garlic and sugared peanut toppers. When your guests arrive, simply heat up your grill pan and sear the chicken to serve with plenty of fresh lettuce leaves and sliced cucumbers, tomatoes and onions.
a 2-burner cast-iron grill pan such as a Food Network™ Pre-Seasoned Cast-Iron Reversible Grill; twelve 10-inch bamboo skewers; tongs such as Food Network™ TUX Silicone-Tipped Tongs
For the chicken and marinade: Combine the brown sugar, oil, turmeric, cayenne, coriander, cumin, garlic, lemongrass, onion and 1 tablespoon salt in a food processor and process to a smooth paste. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the marinade for the peanut sauce. Add the remaining marinade to a large bowl with the chicken and toss to combine. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, up to overnight.
For the peanut sauce: Process the peanuts in a food processor until finely ground but not a paste. Transfer the peanuts to a medium saucepan and add the coconut milk, tamarind paste, vinegar, brown sugar, cayenne, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 cup water and the reserved 2 tablespoons marinade. Bring to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.
For the toppings and serving: Place a fine-mesh sieve over a heatproof bowl near the stove. Process the garlic in a food processor until finally chopped but not a paste. Add the garlic to a medium skillet with the oil and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is light golden brown (be careful not to let it get too dark or it can become bitter), 4 to 5 minutes. Immediately pour the oil and garlic into the sieve and let drain, reserving the garlic oil. Spread the garlic on a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
Return 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil to the skillet (reserve the rest for another use) and add the peanuts. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the peanuts are heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl and toss with the brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Let cool completely.
Heat a 2-burner cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat until evenly hot, about 10 minutes.
Divide the chicken among twelve 10-inch bamboo skewers, packing the pieces close together. Grill, turning frequently with tongs, until the chicken is caramelized all over and cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
Serve the chicken skewers with a platter of the tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce leaves and onions and bowls of rice. Serve the peanut sauce, crispy garlic and sugared peanuts in separate bowls for topping.
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