June 17, 2021

A la Carte: These Chicken Lettuce Wraps (After PF Chang’s) Make Perennially Popular Hors D’Oeuvres

Lee White

I can’t remember a more beautiful couple of weeks in May.

Years ago my husband and I would charter a sailboat in the Caribbean for a week in the winter. The mornings were cool in the morning, warm and cloudless in the afternoons and out of nowhere a cloudburst would appear for just 15 minutes. After that it was clear and sunny for a few hours and cooled down bedtime.

This past weekend’s weather was similar but even better since I was able to spend time with 30 friends I had not seen in almost two years, as we began our boules summer that didn’t happen in 2020.

(Boules, by the way, is sort of like bocce, but the balls are smaller-than-bocce balls, stainless steel and must be played on a gravel or dirt court, since the tiny wooden ball we tried to hit would be invisible on a grass lawn.) 

The first 2021 party was in Old Lyme, and the food was outrageously good—beginning with escargots in a ramekin lidded by a thin cracker that shattered, almost like the top of the burned sugar on top of crème brulée.

Dinner was lamb chops, two kinds of meatballs, couscous and ratatouille, then a cheese course and salad and a flan, or crème caramel, which made us moan.

Could most of us ever make a feast like this for 40 people? I sure could not.

But one of our hors d’oeuvre, which we ate as we played, we could.

Our host, Tim Boyd, said he got the recipe online from PF Chang’s restaurant. And the dessert was a flan made by Stacie Boyd — she says she will give me the recipe soon. I will send it to you next week.

PF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Yield: serves 4 (at least three for each; I might triple the recipe)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced small
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon Sriracha (optional, but it should be in everyone’s pantry)
1 8-ounce can whole water chestnuts, drained and diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 head of butter lettuce (romaine would be fine)

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ground chicken and cook until browned, 3 to 5 minutes, making sure to crumble the chicken as it cooks; drain excess fat.

Stir in garlic, onions, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ginger and Sriracha until onions have become translucent, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in chestnuts and green onions until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste.

To serve, spoon large tablespoon of chicken mixture into center of lettuce leaf, taco-style.

About the author: Lee White has been writing about restaurants and cooking since 1976 and has been extensively published in the Worcester (Mass.) Magazine, The Day, Norwich Bulletin, and Hartford Courant. She currently writes Nibbles and a cooking column called A La Carte for LymeLine.com and the Shore Publishing and the Times newspapers, both of which are owned by The Day. She was a resident of Old Lyme for many years, but now lives in Groton, Conn.

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