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Coconut Basil Chicken Burgers with Thai Peanut Pesto

For anyone who loves the sweet pungency of Thai coconut curries, these burgers are the ticket. Reducing the coconut milk for the patties results in a thick, creamy texture with intense flavor, and the Asian pear slaw provides a cool, crisp counterpoint.


Asian Pear Slaw:
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar 1 Asian pear, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into thin matchsticks
Thai Peanut Pesto:
1/2 cup roasted and salted peanuts
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons roasted peanut oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
Grated zest from 1 lime
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste
2 pounds coarsely ground chicken thighs
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup panko crumbs
2 teaspoons sea salt
Vegetable oil, for brushing the grill rack
6 seeded hamburger buns, split


To make the pear slaw, whisk together the lime juice and sugar in a medium bowl to dissolve sugar. Add the pear and carrot and toss to coat. Cover and chill until serving time. To make the pesto, place all ingredients except tomatoes in a small food processor; process briefly until mixture forms a coarse paste. Transfer to a small bowl and gently stir in tomatoes. Cover and set aside. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, or preheat a gas grill to medium-high. To make the patties, combine coconut milk, lime zest and juice in a 10-inch flameproof skillet. Place skillet on the grill rack and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thickened and reduced to 2/3 cup, about 15 minutes. Add the curry paste to skillet and whisk into coconut milk until smooth. Transfer to a small bowl to cool. Place the chicken in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooled coconut milk mixture, basil, panko and salt. Using a large fork, mix ingredients together gently but thoroughly. Divide the mixture into 6 equal portions and form the portions into patties with slight indentations in the center, and sized to fit the buns. Brush the grill rack with oil. Place the patties on the rack and cover the grill. Cook 4 minutes; flip the patties, replace cover and cook an additional 4 minutes, or until juices run clear from center of patties when pierced. During the last few minutes of cooking, arrange the buns, cut side down, around the edges of the grill to toast lightly. To assemble burgers, distribute an equal amount of slaw on the bottom buns. Top each with a patty and a dollop of pesto. Add bun tops and serve. Makes 6 burgers.