Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cashew Chicken

I have this thing for cookbooks. I really love them, but I rarely actually use them. See, I find hours of enjoyment looking though them, reading them, studying them. When it takes time to make a meal I usually go with what I know. Sometimes on special occasions I find a fun recipe. Usually that recipe is online and not from one of the dozens of cookbooks I own.

A few weeks ago I got a new cookbook in the mail. Food and Wine magazine has this little gem of a cookbook that showed up on my doorstep.

It turns out I'm also a sucker for a good roundup. I couldn't turn down a cookbook that had "the best recipes from the 25 best cookbooks of the year."As per my previously noted cookbook MO, I spent a few evenings looking over all of the recipes and thinking about all of the yummy things I could make.

After those few nights together, I set the book aside and there it sat on our coffee table for weeks. Today I was thinking about Chinese food and was bummed that every Chinese place around here that I've tried has disappointed me. Greatly.

I was mulling over the prospects of another bad Kung Pao Chicken when the cookbook caught my eye. I thought of two of those 25 books: Simply Ming One-Pot Meals and Stir Frying To the Sky's Edge and thought perhaps I could make my own, better Chinese meal.

Enter page 256. Cashew Chicken from Stir Frying To the Sky's Edge. I may never go out for Chinese again. And I might start using the cookbooks I've acquired over the years...

Cashew Chicken adapted only slightly from the cookbook pictured above.

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thigh cubed
3 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons cooking sherry
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 pinch of sugar
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 cup sugar snap peas
1/2 cup julienned carrots
1/2 cup thinly sliced cllery
1/2 cup cashews (the recipe calls for unsalted, but I couldn't find any. I cut the salt back in the recipe and just used salted cashews)

First, I combined the chicken, garlic, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon corn starch, 1 teaspoon sherry and the salt and sugar in a bowl.

In another bowl I combined the broth, remaining soy sauce, 2 tablespoons sherry and 1/2 teaspoon corn starch.

I set both of these bowls aside.

Next, I heated my wok and added a tablespoon of peanut oil and the ginger. I stir fried that until it was fragrant and pushed it to the sides of the wok. Then, I dumped the chicken concoction in the hot wok and spread it evenly across the bottom. I let it sit there for about a minute to sear and then stir fried for another minute until it was brown but not cooked through.

Last, I added the last of the oil, all of the veggies and the cashews. I stir fired that for a few minutes, stirred my broth mixture and poured that over the chicken and veggies. I was supposed to stir fry that for about a minute and serve, but it was at this point that I realized I hadn't made the rice. (Awesome rice cooker posted about here.)


So, I turned down the heat, started the rice and fumed for about 14 minutes knowing that I ruined dinner. Well, it turns out that this meal doesn't have to be super precise. It was delicious even with an extra 13 minutes simmering at low heat.

I like low maintenance recipes that are hard to ruin. I always manage to do something that has the potential to screw up dinner, so it makes me happy when recipes are Amy-proof.

Needless to say, Number 7 Chinese will not be my I-don't-really-enjoy-it-but-I-want-Chinese go-to restaurant any more. I may not need a restaurant. Actually, I'll need to figure out crab rangoons before I swear off chinese places all together.

Are you a cookbook person? Or do they gather dust like mine?

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