Friday, December 4, 2009

Chicken Stir Fry

This is one of my favorite go-to recipes for nights when I need a quick meal that is tasty, nutritious, and lower fat.

There are two things you must know up-front, however. First, this is NOT an authentic Asian culinary masterpiece. You will find no exotic sauces, no specialized ingredients, and no fancy equipment necessary. It's one of the reasons I like it so much. Also, this is a very adaptable recipe. I never make it exactly the same each time. Feel free to add, subtract, or swap out ingredients.

I like recipes that give me freedom. Makes me feel all rogue. And reckless. It fulfills my secret Iron Chef dreams.

Easy Chicken Stir Fry

1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons cooking sherry
1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons minced garlic
1 1/2 cups water

Mix the first 5 ingredients together. Reserve about 1/2 cup of the marinade for use with your veggies.

You'll notice I didn't put an amount of chicken. I buy chicken in bulk packages, so I can never tell exactly how much the chicken I put in weighs. I usually slice about 3 chicken breasts for my family of four. Last time, though, I managed to buy the Dolly Parton of chicken breasts, so I only needed one and a half. Slice your chicken into thin strips and place in marinade. You can do this earlier in the day or you can even do it ahead of time and freeze it in the marinade. Thaw for the day you want to cook it.

Next, raid your veggie drawer and see what you have available that all of the kidlings in your family will eat. My stir fry usually consists of some or all of the following: carrots, sugar snap peas, bell peppers, onion, zucchini, water chestnuts (canned), and the occasional snow pea or bean sprout. Cut your veggies into pieces of roughly the same size. This will help them cook more evenly. I usually end up with about 3 cups of veggies. If you're trying to stretch the budget, use more veggies and less meat. Stir fries are very forgiving and your kids really won't notice.

When you're ready to cook, the first thing you want to do is to start you rice if you're planning on serving it with you stir fry. It's an important step that I've been known to forget on more than one occasion.

Add a tablespoon of canola oil to a pan, wok, or (my favorite) a cast iron skillet. Allow to heat over medium high heat for a minute. Add half of the chicken, drained. (Careful, it will splatter.) Stir fry until almost cooked through then add about a half cup of the marinade. Allow it to come to a boil, then let it cook down. It'll make a nice glaze on your chicken. Remove from skillet and repeat with remaining chicken.

After you're done with your chicken, it's time for the veggies. Toss them into the hot skillet, stirring for a few minutes until your onions soften a bit. Add the reserved marinade and cover, allowing the veggies to steam until cooked to a crisp tender. Don't overcook--mushy carrots aren't too yummy.

At this point, you can throw the chicken back into the pan and mix it all together, or you can just serve the veggies and the chicken separately over the rice and enjoy.

You can use chopsticks if you want to feel exotic or you need some extra dinner entertainment!

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