Saturday, March 12, 2011

Chicken and Cashews

Sometimes I make a meal, and I am very sure that one of us (either Kevin or I) will really dislike it. This time, I was quite sure I would love this, but I knew Kevin wouldn't dig it. He is never a fan of nuts in his meal (something about the texture), but I love them, so I made this anyway. My baby sis sent me the recipe a couple of weeks ago, along with her glowing review, and her strong encouragement to make the dish immediately. Of course, I cannot pass up a rave review, so I made it soon after.

First of all, this is an easy-to-make dinner. The recipe says that it takes 30 minutes, but that's never really right. In reality it was more like 45 minutes to an hour, but that was fine by me. I always like to saute my onions and other veggies for a little longer, so they get nice and soft. Anyway, it comes together quickly and beautifully, and the rice "recipe" at the bottom is a simple but flavorful addition. The flavor of this is actually really mellow - as in, not overly salty or sweet - but it's really complex and has a nice blend of spicy and sweet, with a nice ginger soy undertone, that doesn't overtake the dish. The cashews add such a lovely nutty flavor, and I think they are really essential to making it a unique dish, as opposed to having a generic Chinese food flavor.

At first Kevin said, "Does this have nuts? Oh, I really dislike nuts in my food." After about 15 minutes though, he said, "You know what? This is actually delicious. I take it back. I don't even notice the actual nuts. It just tastes... GOOD."


Ingredient note: I used to be a tad intimidated by recipes that called for fresh ginger. I have bought it and done the right thing, by peeling and grating it into my dishes. I realized, however, that I never use up the ginger before it goes bad. Now, I buy bottled, grated or minced ginger. You can find it in the produce section, with the bottled, minced garlic. It's such a great ingredient to have on hand. I always skip the "oyster sauce" in these types of recipes, but I wouldn't dare skip the ginger. It really adds great flavor to our Asian inspired dinners. Try it bottled - it's a great time and energy saver!

Try this. It's absolutely delicious, and oh so easy to make. 4 Bowls!

Chicken and Cashews

Preparation Time: 30 minutes minutes
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup)

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, divided
2 tablespoons dry sherry
4 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
3/4 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup chopped green onions (about 3 green onions)
1/4 cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted cashews

1. Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sherry, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, and chicken in a large bowl; toss well to coat. Combine remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch, broth, oyster sauce, and honey in a small bowl.

2. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken mixture to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from pan. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Return chicken mixture to pan; sauté 1 minute. Stir in broth mixture. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with green onions and cashews.

Rice pilaf: Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup chopped onion and 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 1 cup water, 1/2 cup long-grain rice, and 1/4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; stir in 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.

CALORIES 257 ; FAT 9g (sat 1.9g,mono 4.2g,poly 2.3g); CHOLESTEROL 63mg; CALCIUM 45mg; CARBOHYDRATE 17g; SODIUM 584mg; PROTEIN 26g; FIBER 1.9g; IRON 2mg

Cooking Light, MAY 2009

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