Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chili-Mango Chicken

All of us have those stressful, rushed days when the last thing you want to do is spent a lot of time standing in the kitchen slaving over dinner.  But even on my most stressful days I'm more inclined to root through my cabinets than order take out.  Enter this recipe.  It has all the comforts of Chinese take-out, but is cooked up quicker than delivery would take, with the added satisfaction of having made a meal from scratch.

I first perused the recipe in one of Ross' Men's Health magazines and made a mental note of it should I want a quick, but impressive dinner.  The article boasts fridge to plate in 19 minutes.  Including time to cook the rice and a secret trick that makes the chicken silken and ridiculously tender, my dinner was on the table in less than thirty minutes.

adapted from Short Order Cook in Men's Health, October 2011

serves 4

The Ingredients:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 Tbsp peanut or canola oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, minced
1 green pepper, chopped
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and chopped
1/2 to 2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce (I used Huy Fong)
Black pepper to taste

The Process:
Prepare rice as per your preference.

To tenderize the chicken combine the meat with baking soda in a medium bowl.  Allow to marinate for 10 minutes.  Thoroughly rinse the chicken and pat dry.

Combine the chicken, cornstarch, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a mixing bowl and let sit for additional 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the peanut or canola oil in a wok or large skillet over high heat. Add the onion and ginger and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the green pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute more, stirring constantly. Add the chicken, along with its marinade, and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, until the meat begins to brown. Add the mango, 1/2 T chili garlic sauce, and black pepper.   stir-fry until the chicken is cooked through and the mango has softened into a near sauce-like consistency. Add additional chili garlic sauce until the desired heat is achieved.

Serve with rice.

The Review:
I may have been a little zealous with the chili garlic sauce on my first pass with this recipe.  Be sure to know your audience before dosing your dish with too much heat!  That being said, I loved the simplicity of the process and the ingredients.  The recipe is ridiculously quick and lends itself to many variations of meats and vegetables.  A spicy beef-broccoli, a  gingery shrimp with a kick, maybe a few cashew for extra crunch.  The marinade is simple enough to not over power the other flavors (unless of course you really pour on the chili garlic sauce) and will certainly compliment a wide range of ingredients.  The dish is filling while still being light.  And did I mention how simple it is?

And trust me on the baking soda marinade.  The step only takes another 10 to 12 minutes but it is the only method I have come across that creates that incredibly silken texture found in Chinese take out.

Added bonus for a dish truly from scratch...try making your own chili garlic paste

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