Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Good Food - Chinese Orange BBQ Cashew Chicken

I always find that I never quite know where the line is to "overstay one's welcome." Last week Gary's mother was in town, and I think she felt that she crossed this line even before she came. However, as usual, by the end of the week we were all wondering where the time had gone and how was it already time for her to leave??

Muggs and I are constantly sharing little tips, tricks and recipes with each other whenever we are together. It is always fun to have someone to share your latest culinary delights and pick up new ones! In one of our many Barefoot Contessa-eque conversations, we were both exclaiming that much of our Joy of Cooking comes from how much we just LOVE FOOD. There is nothing better than taking a bite of what you've made and experiencing a little party in your mouth.

I have several recipes in the queue that elicit such sensations that I've been meaning to share...strangely enough most of my recent ones are all asian-inspired...but here's one that I made last night that Gary equated with my Ginger Steak, which says a lot, as he has claimed that my "Best Meal" to date. Not only is it delicious, it's healthy, easy and quick to make.

So here you go - my adaptation of Rachael Ray's Chinese Orange BBQ Cashew Chicken:
• 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil (or olive - I use olive oil for everything)
• 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, chopped into bite-size pieces (I cut up the chicken AFTER I cooked it - I felt like it kept it more moist)
• Salt and ground black pepper
• 1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced (Add whatever veggies you have...I did a mixture of peppers, broccoli and carrots...anything would work!)
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
• 1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated (fresh ginger is key!)
• 1 tablespoon hot sauce
• 2 tablespoons tamari
• 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
• 1/2 cup orange marmalade (AT LEAST! - this is about 1/2 a jar...but I think you could add more if you wanted even more orange flavor)
• 1/2 cup regular or honey-roasted cashews
• 3 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias
**Note - the original recipe also calls for a 1/2 c. chicken stock. I left this out last night, as I felt like the time before the sauce was a little runny. If anything, leaving it out only intensified the flavors.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of oil, about 2 tablespoons. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, add in the meat and stir-fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan and reserve on a plate.

Add the veggies, onion, garlic and ginger to the skillet and stir-fry until tender, 3-4 minutes. While that’s cooking up, stir together the hot sauce, tamari, hoisin sauce, orange marmalade and stock in a small bowl.

When the veggies are tender, return the chicken to the skillet and pour the sauce over everything. Add the cashews to the skillet, toss to coat and continue cooking until the sauce thickens up, about 1 minute.

Serve the stir-fry over brown rice, garnished with scallions.

My only problem with this recipe is that even with leaving out the chicken broth I still cannot come up with that sticky, gooey consistency of "normal" orange chicken sauce. The flavor's there, but it is just like a runny teriyaki sauce. Please let me know if you figure this out!

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