Stir Fry Secrets

We do stir frys on the regular, but in the last year or so I’ve learned a couple of secrets that have dramatically upped my stir fry game. Apparently it’s all in the method.

1) Velvet the chicken*–this is the biggest game changer

2) Have everything ready to go, including meat and vegetables chopped and sauce made–I mean, I guess this isn’t really a secret; maybe everyone already does this, but, like starting with a clean kitchen, this tip is money

3) Use one pan–first do your meat (then remove it), then add vegetables in order of cooking time needed, then add the meat back, and finish with your sauce (just long enough to coat everything really)

The nice thing about stir frys is that they are so flexible. This one is my go-to recipe, but it is endlessly changeable depending on what you have (or don’t have) on hand:

*Velvet the chicken–I’m guessing it’s called this because it makes the chicken velvety? I don’t know; I just know this method keeps the chicken from being dry or chewy. I’ll never skip this step if I can help it.

  • 1-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin strips or cubes
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons oil

Combine all these ingredients together and then marinate the chicken while you prepare the sauce and vegetables. Meanwhile, bring water to boil in a medium/large saucepan or wok-like pan.

When your sauce is made and vegetables chopped, boil the chicken for three minutes, drain, and set aside.

Prepare the sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (I usually leave this out per family preference)
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/3 cup coconut aminos (you can also use soy sauce, but since it has a stronger flavor, I’d probably use less)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Combine all these ingredients and set aside.

Prepare the vegetables

Go crazy with whatever you like. I usually use about

  • 1 small head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1-2 carrots, sliced
  • 1-2 bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 onion, sliced

Put it all together

  • oil
  • vegetables you’ve prepared
  • chicken you’ve velveted
  • sauce you’ve prepared
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or wok (I use the same large pot/skillet/saucepan thing I used earlier for the chicken).
  2. Add the vegetables and sauté until almost tender (usually about 5 minutes for the onions and carrots; I’m usually fairly lazy and throw all in at once, but you could go crazy and add the faster-cooking vegetables later).
  3. Add the chicken back to the pan and then add the sauce.
  4. Toss and let cook for just a couple of minutes to let the flavors blend.
  5. Serve over rice or noodles.
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Quick Red Coconut Curry Noodles

Mel’s Kitchen Cafe somehow convinced me to make this dish last night. I’ve avoiding learning to make my favorite foods—yes, it is absurd—so I can enjoy them at my favorite restaurants. Dumb. Glad the tides are turning. Next time I’d like to try this Thai Coconut Curry, which is a little different. I have a few cooking notes down below, but the quick take is that this tasted really great on a Saturday night and I will make it again with tweaks.

INGREDIENTS:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
1 tablespoon oil
2 cans light or regular coconut milk
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cups sweet Thai chili sauce
2 ¼ cups chicken broth
1 (13.5 ounce) package rice noodles (about ¼-inch wide)
1 yellow onion, sliced into thin half moons
2 red peppers, cored and sliced thinly
1 cup broccoli slaw or thinly sliced matchstick carrots
1 teaspoon salt to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a large pot over medium heat, scoop the cream off the top of each can of coconut and put it in the pot. (If using light coconut milk, there won’t be cream to use, so use the 1 tablespoon oil called for in the recipe). The cream will be used as the “fat” instead of oil or butter. Along with the cream, add the curry paste and ginger. Let this simmer, stirring constantly, for about one minute.

Add the chicken and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5-6 minutes. Add the coconut milk, sweet Thai chili sauce, cilantro, and chicken broth. Bring this to a simmer.

Add the red pepper, broccoli slaw (or carrots) and rice noodles and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent the noodles from sticking to the bottom, for about 5-8 minutes. The noodles will thicken and plump up as they absorb the liquid. The mixture will be slightly soupy when the noodles are finished cooking.

Take the pot off the heat and let the noodles sit for about 5 minutes. The mixture will continue to thicken. Garnish with more cilantro, if desired.

**Two cans of regular coconut milk is a little much for me. The creaminess, the fat content, the weight of it in my stomach veers over the edge just slightly, so next time I might try the light coconut milk cans or simply reduce the amount I’m using. I skipped the red peppers for the sake of my non-pepper loving family members and I doubled the amount of broccoli slaw. This works, but I’m craving more veggies. This recipe can definitely handle chunky vegetables. Some commenters noted they added fish sauce at the end, and other doubled the amount of red curry paste. Both seem like potential good ideas to me. I wanted more of a spice kick, but again, for my child in particular, I didn’t want too much heat. Really yummy recipe, the smells flooded my house with happiness. But I think I can do a bit better next time.

Apple Cider Braised Chicken and Fall Veggies

dinner

I found and saved this recipe on Facebook a few weeks ago. Finding again and then cooking from a recipe on FB? I don’t even know. So I’m putting it here on NMB, and I can have it for always.

This smelled amazing and hit all the right notes. You know a recipe is a keeper when the kids ask for more vegetables and then even after two helpings go pick at the pan for their favorites (garlic! celery!).

This didn’t cook in the time the original recipe said it would (maybe I had too many vegetables?), so I’m going to post it here just like I made it. It’s a little fussy with moving from one pot to two, but not overly so, I don’t think.

Ingredients:

  • 9-10 chicken drumsticks
  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-inch squares
  • 3 medium potatoes, chopped into 1-inch squares (next time I’ll probably double the potatoes–they were a favorite)
  • 4 stalks celery, chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 cup apple cider or spiced apple cider (I used plain apple juice because that’s what I had)
  • 1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, peeled (I’ll use more next time, another favorite)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Start by chopping and peeling all the veggies and setting them aside. This doesn’t actually have to be done first, but I bet you’ll be happier getting it out of the way.
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Next, heat coconut oil in a large dutch oven or oven safe pot with lid. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
  4. Add garlic and chicken to the oil and let chicken cook on each side for about 3 minutes at medium/high heat. Remove and add 1/4 cup cider to the pan to deglaze. Using something soft like a spatula, stir to remove any stuck bits from the pan. After a minute or so, add chicken back in, then cover with veggies and sage, a sprinkle of salt, 1 cup of cider, and cover. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
  5. Now at this point, my chicken wasn’t nearly done, so I moved the drumsticks to a 9×13 glass pan and put the chicken and the veggies (now separated) back into the oven for about 15 minutes. If your chicken is done with the initial bake, great. Proceed to step 6.
  6. Scoop out all the chicken and veggies. There should be some of the cider and fat left in the pot. If its thick, you can use is straight up as gravy. If it’s still too thin, add some of the vegetables back in to the liquid and use an immersion blender to thicken into a gravy to serve atop chicken and veggies.
  7. Plate chicken with veggies, add a drizzle of cider gravy, and enjoy.

Crispy Chicken with White Wine Pan Sauce

Taken from Good Housekeeping magazine and served to friends tonight, this dish is a winner. That pan sauce…yum!

2 t olive oil
2.5lb chicken thighs
3/4 t salt, divided
2 medium shallots, chopped
2/3 C white wine
1/4 t dried rosemary
3 T sour cream
1/2 C chicken broth
chives

In a 12-inch skillet, heat olive oil on medium high. Season chicken thighs with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, skin sides down, 6-8 minutes or until browned. Transfer to foil-lined baking sheet, skin sides up. Bake in 450 F oven 15 minutes or until cooked through.

To same skillet on medium, add shallots. Cook 2 minutes. Add white wine and rosemary, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Simmer 2 minutes, scraping up browned bits. Whisk in sour cream and chicken broth. Serve chicken with sauce, garnish with snipped chives.

Roast Chicken with Potatoes “By the Wall”

I found this recipe as a newlywed back in St. Louis and looked it up today to use as a mercy meal. This time around I approximated on all ingredients, pouring them into 1- and 2-gallon freezer bags to coat the potatoes and chicken. I purchased a tray of eight thighs, another of 12 (ish?) drumsticks, and used 5 lb of golden potatoes. It gave me 2-9×13 pans and 1-8×8 pan for a total of three meals. Score! And it was delicious to boot.

Ingredients

    • 6 tablespoons olive oil
    • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 teaspoons dried oregano
    • 2 1/4 pounds white-skinned potatoes, peeled, each cut into 6 long wedges
    • 1 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
    • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (I omitted this entirely)

Preparation

    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush inside of large roasting pan with 2 tablespoons oil. Combine remaining 4 tablespoons oil, garlic, and 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano in bowl. Add potatoes and toss to coat. Sprinkle potatoes with salt and pepper. Sprinkle chicken with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano, salt, and pepper. Arrange chicken in single layer in center of prepared pan. Arrange potatoes around chicken. Drizzle chicken with lemon juice and any remaining oil mixture from bowl of potatoes.
    2. Roast chicken and potatoes until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender, about 1 hour 10 minutes.

Chicken in Coconut Milk with Lemongrass

koselig_chickencoconutmilk

Another recipe in the Koselig Cooking series, this is a good one if you’re a fan of Thai flavors. 

Serves 4 to 6

1 whole roasting chicken (3 to 4 pounds)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro stems
juice of one lemon + zest, discard rind
1 stalk lemongrass, 5 inches of white part only, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
6 to 8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 (14- to 16-ounce) can coconut milk
3 cups torn greens (spinach, kale, chard, mizuna, etc.)
2 green onions, chopped into 1/4-inch pieces
Chopped cilantro, to garnish
Cooked rice, to serve

Pat the chicken dry and sprinkle it liberally with salt and pepper. Put the chicken, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours, or if you’re going to cook it right away, set it aside while you prepare remaining ingredients.

When ready to bake the chicken, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Melt the butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, then add the oil. Put in the chicken, breast-side up, and let it sizzle for about 30 seconds. Carefully flip the bird and crisp the other side for another 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat, put the chicken on a plate, and pour off the fat in the pot.

Transfer the chicken back into the pot, breast-side up, and add the cinnamon stick, star anise, chopped cilantro stems, lemon, lemongrass, garlic, and coconut milk. Cook, uncovered, in the preheated oven for 60 to 90 minutes (depending on size). Spoon the sauce over the top of the bird to baste every 20 minutes or so. The chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165°F.

Remove chicken from the pot and put it on a plate. Pull out and discard the cinnamon stick and star anise. Put the pot with the sauce back on the stovetop over medium heat, add the spinach and stir until just wilted, about 10 seconds.

Carve the chicken and serve each piece over rice with sauce spooned over the top. Garnish with chopped scallions and cilantro leaves.

Tandoori Chicken

I found this one on Instagram, and I don’t want to lose it. It’s a keeper — easy, easy and tasty.

Ingredients
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder (I used garam masala, and it was great)
1/2-1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (our family likes it on the less-spicy side)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (I use regular, as I don’t care for smoked, but that’s personal preference)
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
1 tablespoon minced garlic (I didn’t have this; I’m sure it would only add)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 14-ounce can (or 1 1/2 cups) coconut milk
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

chicken (original recipe calls for 9 thighs; I used 4 leg quarters)

Directions
1. Whisk together all ingredients (except chicken) and place in a gallon-size ziplock bag. Add chicken and massage marinade into chicken. Place the mixture in the fridge to marinate for 6 hours.
2. Preheat oven to 350.
3. On the stovetop, heat a cast iron skillet (or oven safe skillet) on medium-high heat with a few tablespoons of olive or coconut oil. Brown the chicken, skin side down, for approximately 5 minutes or until the chicken in a nice golden brown.
4. Turn the chicken over, skin side up. Pour the remaining marinade over the chicken.
5. Bake chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. (Mine took about 40 minutes, but the original recipe said 20, so…)