Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Take-out, Take-in

Although I do love Chinese takeout every once in awhile, the simple fact is that it is just not good for you.  Yes, we are college students, and yes, we can indulge ourselves (especially when Grey's Anatomy is airing this Thursday night at 9pm- not that I would ever sit through that overdramatized hour of television...), but there are alternatives to the greasy "mystery meat" that Chinese takeout provides us with.

Thus, we come to my next recipe, Stir Fry Lemon Chicken, courtesy of the book Cooking Free by Carol Fenster.  Although I will elaborate on this book down the road, I will note now that Cooking Free is a cookbook tailored to "people with food allergies and multiple food sensitivities."  Therefore, this recipe is also proof that it is possible to have a gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, potato-free, most-other-things-free meal that actually tastes good. 

Since this was my first time cooking this recipe, I want to make sure to take you along the cooking ride with me as I experienced it.  And thank you in advance to my boyfriend Joe for being my co-chef/model for most of these pictures (to be added soon!).

What you'll need:
  • 1 lb boneless chicken
  • 1/4 cup wheat free tamari soy sauce (or regular soy sauce, if you don't have to worry about wheat)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 green onions
  • 1/2 c red bell pepper
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 tsp corn starch
How to make it:

1) Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces and put in a plastic container with a lid.

2) Combine soy sauce, lemon juice, water, lemon zest, honey, red pepper flakes, garlic, and ginger and mix thoroughly.  Pour half of the marinade into the chicken container and marinade for 30 minutes in the fridge.

3) While the chicken is marinading, cut carrots, onions, and bell peppers into bite-sized pieces.

4) Drain the marinade out of the chicken container.  Saute the chicken in the olive oil over medium heat until lightly browned.  Transfer to a plate and cover with aluminum foil

5) Saute the vegetables until they are tender.  Whisk the cornstarch into the other half of the marinade well and add to the vegetables.

6) Stir until sauce becomes thick.  Add chicken, cook for another minute or two, and serve over rice.

Recipe Review:
This recipe defies the stereotype that "cooking free," so to speak, means cooking flavor free.  The spices in this dish definitely create levels of flavor, ranging from sour to salty to a little bit of spice.

Although I should have expected it because the recipe includes red pepper flakes, the chicken was spicier than I thought it would be!  It definitely works well with texture and subtle flavor of basic rice, and adding a little salt to the rice added an extra pop as well.

My main criticism of this dish is the small amount of sauce that the recipe creates.  I like having a lot of sauce to mix in with my rice, and this recipe really didn't create much because the marinade reduced.

Also, as a personal preference, I don't like overly spicy food too much (other tasters insist that the dish was, in fact, not that spicy- I have sensitive taste buds), so I would have liked a little less spice in the dish.

Overall review?  This is a solid four stars; it has the potential to be even better with a few tweaks, plus it was food allergy-friendly, which is always a plus in my book because Joe can share it too!

For next time...
Since this was my first time making this dish, I would make some modifications to the recipe.  Here are some of them:
  • To create more sauce, don't drain the chicken from its marinade when browning it.  This may require a little more cornstarch later on, but only if necessary.
  • Because I'm a bigger fan of the salty to the spicy and sour, I would add a splash more soy sauce when cooking the vegetables and perhaps a pinch more salt.  I would also decrease the amount of red pepper flakes, but if you are a fan of spice, leave it in!
  • Add more of each kind of veggie, since you need to buy more than called for anyways.  You can also add other types of vegetables if you like- I love onions and mushrooms, so I would add those!  It will make your recipe stretch further and will add more texture contrast to the chicken.
 What are your favorite healthier alternatives to take-out?  Would you make this recipe?

No comments:

Post a Comment