Stir-fried Chicken

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Macy hopes gravity will prevail.

♦ ♦ ♦

You’re going to want to cook this on your next bad day. I did.

I was glad this recipe was in my arsenal last week, because good food shared with loved ones can take the sting out of most bad days. This chicken dish is delicious and requires little thinking, two of its many stellar qualities. Making it on the fly requires that a certain few items are always in your pantry. But ensuring that means a home-cooked meal is within reach, with one quick stop at the grocery store on your way home from whatever chaos and mayhem exist in your particular circumstances. (If the chaos and mayhem actually exist in your home, then God bless you even more.) Just keep your pantry stocked with soy sauce, cornstarch, rice, and an onion, and with a package of boneless chicken breasts and a couple of veggies, you can make it.

You can make it.

Stir-fried Chicken, recipe adapted from a Nordic Ware® promotional booklet included with an electric wok that my mother-in-law gave me 30 years ago. After the wok quit working, I found that a big, non-stick skillet is a very effective substitute and a lot easier to store. Regardless, this recipe was the real gift.

First, start cooking some rice according to package directions.

Then make the marinade: Into a medium-sized bowl, combine 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon soy sauce (I use the low-sodium variety), 1 teaspoon corn starch, and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper.

With scissors, cut 1 pound of raw chicken breasts (boneless and skinless) into 1-inch chunks. Add the chicken to the marinade, and stir to coat well. Let stand 20 minutes (or longer in the refrigerator).

While the chicken marinates, cut 1 small onion into cubes, and prepare 1 1/2 cups of green vegetables. (Use what you like. Naturally tender veggies like sugar snap peas or snow peas can simply be rinsed and dried, then used as is. Tougher ones like broccoli, asparagus, or green beans need to be cut into bite-sized pieces, then blanched quickly in boiling water, followed by a dunk in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain, dry, and proceed.) For a little color contrast, I add most of 1 red or yellow bell pepper, cubed.

Make the finishing sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of corn starch, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 1/4 cup of water or chicken broth.

Have all your ingredients ready before you start cooking. This goes quickly.

Set a large, non-stick skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil (I use peanut oil for its high smoke point. You can use vegetable oil, if you prefer.) When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the chicken. Stir-fry until the meat is white on all sides. Remove to a plate, and add another tablespoon of oil to the hot pan. Toss in the onion, and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the rest of the vegetables, and stir-fry until they are tender-crisp, keeping the contents of the pan moving constantly. Return the chicken to the pan.

Give the sauce ingredients another quick whisk to recombine the cornstarch with the liquids, then pour over the chicken and vegetables in the pan. Stir briskly to combine and evenly coat. The sauce will thicken almost immediately. Remove the pan from heat. Serve the stir-fry over hot rice, and garnish the top with a handful of cashews or peanuts, plus some chopped green onions.

Tomorrow’s another day.

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