Sunday, April 6, 2014

Chicken Fried Rice (consider gauntlet thrown, oh ye potatoe devotee?)

Hello Readers!

I had quite a productive Saturday today. Part of that productivity was taking my bucket and bags of compost over to Added Value (long overdue). This task always reveals the contents of my fridge. It was pretty sparse, but there was the unopened takeout box of rice from Monday. I had kept it on purpose to make something (mostly I've been aspiring to rice balls. yes. rice balls.) but I was kind of pooped, so was on the fence about heating up a lot of oil. I had carrots, celery, and asparagus in the fridge, onion and garlic in the cabinet, and figured fried rice was in order.

I picked up a skinless, bone-in full chicken breast (mostly because the skinless boneless were being sold in packages of more chicken than I wanted to deal with today) a handful of sugar snap peas, a bunch of golden beets, and that was about all I needed.

When I found a nice base recipe to work from for the fried rice part, I was on my way, but I wasn't sure how I wanted to prepare the chicken. I knew I could boil it, but I wanted it to be a little more flavorful. So I grabbed my cast iron skillet, put down a few pats of butter, and a layer of celery and carrots that I cut into long pieces. I then put the chicken breast-side up on top of the veggies, salted and peppered it, then covered the chicken with slices of garlic, onion, and lemon.

While I pre-heated the oven to 450 degrees, I put the burner under the covered skillet on high. I wanted to heat the pan and chicken up, then put it into the oven. I thought cooking the chicken in the skillet in the oven would keep the chicken from drying out. Once the oven reached 450 (took a little under 10 minutes), I put the covered skillet in and let it cook for about 35-40 minutes, then I uncovered it, and let it cook for another 10 minutes before I turned the oven off, and let it sit in the oven. You could just as easily cook the chicken from start to finish in a pan in the oven.

While the chicken was cooking I, chopped up in a small-medium dice about 3 carrots, 3 stalks of celery and 2 peeled golden beets, de-veined and cut the beet greens into 1-inch square pieces, halved the ~1.5 cups of peas, cut the bunch of asparagus into 1 inch pieces, small-chopped 5 cloves of garlic and thin-sliced one small onion.

At this point, the chicken was done, and I pulled it out of the oven to cool down so that I could take it off the bone and rough chop it.

what it's rough-cut chicken

I don't have a wok (but it doesn't feel like a big void or anything), so I melted some butter in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat, and added the onion, garlic, and then the beets.

I was going to, reflexively, add salt, but I knew I was going to add soy sauce at the end so I held back. In terms of spices, I added in turmeric (mostly because they were talking about turmeric on NPR today, but they kept calling it tumeric, and that was bothering me) some cayenne, some crushed red pepper, but really not too much of anything, about a half a teaspoon each.

Next, I added in the carrots, celery and peas, as well as about 1.5 tablespoons of safflower oil (anything high-heat oil would do). Once those cooked down a bit, I added in the asparagus, and kept stirring until all the vegetables had softened.

While continuing to stir, I emptied the container of rice into the pot, as well as the chicken, working to get everything as combined as possible, I stirred in the beet greens here as well.

I turned the heat up on the pan, and poured in the whisked 1/2 cup of soy sauce and 1 egg in, stirring around to ensure the soy/egg mixture coated the rice and veggies as evenly as possible. I let it cook over the high heat for about a minute, then turned the heat off, and covered the pan so the egg cooked through.

It was pretty delicious.
Then I made chocolate chip cookies...

PostScript: Had leftovers today for lunch, and they were tasty. I think you could add less than a half cup of soy sauce. Or I would have added more rice and veg if I had had more- scallions would be awesome, crisped scallions.
I also thought this would be good with any type of protein- tofu, seitan, pork, beef. not sure I would do shrimp, but I'd consider it. maybe cutting them into small pieces and half-cooking them on high heat and then tossing in once the rice was combined and heated through...
post-meal thoughts

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