I got home from work late tonight. I'd been at a Virginia Women Attorneys' Association meeting (and it was a total hoot. Imagine 10-15 powerful type-A women in a small conference room, with drinks and snacks provided, noshing and discussing the various and sundry details of the Association, and from time-to-time, someone shouting out, "Ladies there is a motion on the floor can we vote please!" It was hilariously awesome. I think I might even join a committee.)
So after getting home late, I wasn't feeling much like standing over the stove for an hour. Steven offered to take us out to eat, but there are groceries in our fridge that are just languishing so I figured I should probably make something.
Begrudgingly, I decided on a recipe from an old Everyday Food magazine: Cashew Chicken. One problem -- no cashews. I decided to do without.
The result? AMAZING DELICIOUSNESS OH WHY WOULD WE EVER GO BUY SOGGY FRIES WHEN I CAN ACTUALLY MAKE THIS WITH MY OWN TWO HANDS AND A STOVE.
Seriously, sometimes I forget that home cooked meals don't really take that long and they are a thousand billion zillion size-of-the-federal-deficit times better than take-out.
Here's the recipe, with my variations:
Cashew Chicken: (from Everyday Food magazine, September 2009)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons dry sherry (or leave out)
2 tsp. minced, peeled, fresh ginger*
3 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2/3 cup unsalted cashews, toasted (Didn't have any. They would have been delicious though.)
2 green onions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
In a medium bowl, toss chicken with sherry, ginger, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch; season with salt. (Or don't put in any salt. It still tasted great without extra salt.) Refrigerate 30 minutes. (Or however long it takes you to get the rest of the ingredients together.) In another bowl, combine broth, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Set sauce aside.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook until golden and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer chicken to a covered plate. Add 1 teaspoon oil to skillet and cook remaining chicken (reduce heat if chicken is over-browning). Transfer to plate.
To same skillet, add 1 teaspoon oil, garlic, cashews, and green onion whites. Cook, stirring constantly, until garlic begins to soften, about 30 seconds. Whisk sauce and add to skillet along with chicken. Cook until sauce thickens, about 30 seconds. Top with green onion greens and serve with white rice. We had ours with a package of Steamfresh snap peas.**
Serves 4 kind-of-hungry people, or two very-hungry people (like us).
* I have discovered the most random yet marvelous thing: Frozen, individually packaged Crushed Ginger from a company called Dorot. No more trying to peel ginger, no more being annoyed because one recipe needs fresh ginger and I have to go buy a whole ginger root just for one recipe. Apparently they have all sorts of frozen spices and things. I might get a chopped basil tray, too. You could do this with basil grown in a garden -- you'd just have to figure out a good way to freeze single-teaspoon servings....
** A brief word about Steamfresh steamed veggies. They pretty much rule. I rarely buy other veggies, because in 4 minutes, you can have perfectly steamed whatever veggie you want with these little bags. The perfect sides to an otherwise meat-and-starch meal. I keep these and green peas in the freezer at all times, for just such an domestic emergency.