I don’t generally cook meals during the week that take more than 1/2 hour to prepare. Kinda like Rachael Ray, I stick to 30-minute meals. Actually I feel my life is more like an episode of the Food Network show “Chopped” where the contestants have 30 minutes to prepare an entrée for three judges out of a basketful of random ingredients (duck breast, blue cheese, star fruit, tequila). Except in my house there are 2 judges and they’re picky eaters, and the ingredients aren’t quite as exotic…think, chicken, celery, onion, rice. How to amaze the judges with these everyday mundane ingredients and prepare it in 30 minutes or less?
This is my chicken stir-fry, adaptable to any ingredients you may have on hand. As long as one of them is chicken. For veggies you can include anything that you like. If I plan ahead I try to have some Asian inspired veggies like bean sprouts or pea pods. This batch just included what I had in the fridge: broccoli, celery, carrots, green pepper and onion.
My basic technique is to fry up the chicken first until it is just cooked through. Then I set that aside and start on the veggies, starting with carrots which take longest to cook, then adding each one in order so that they are all done at about the same time. Then I add ginger and garlic, add the chicken back in, and then sauce it.
- Vegetable oil (I use canola)
- Chicken tenders, about 3/4 pound (or 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts) cut into 1-inch pieces
- ½ of a medium onion, chopped
- 2-3 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2-3 stalks celery, sliced on an angle (looks pretty)
- 1 large crown broccoli, separated into small flowerets, stalks chopped
- ½ green pepper, chopped
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped (or a spoonful of jarred ginger that you can store in the fridge)
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- Soy sauce (I use low-sodium)
- Stir fry sauce (optional; any kind from the Asian aisle in the grocery store will do, I use House of Tsang classic; yeah you could make your own but then it wouldn’t be a 30-minute meal)
- Walnuts and sesame seeds (optional)
- Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over medium-high heat.
- Add chicken – if the pan is hot enough it should sizzle immediately – and cook until just cooked through; no longer opaque. Remove from pan into a bowl and set aside.
- Wipe out skillet with a paper towel and add about another teaspoon or two of oil. Add the onion and carrots and cook for about 2-3 minutes, stirring often. While you are doing this you can get the next set of ingredients ready….that’s the trick to getting this done in less than 30 minutes! Be ready to multi-task!
- Add the celery, broccoli stalks, and green pepper. Continue cooking and stirring for a few minutes
- Add the broccoli flowerets. At this point you may need to add a bit more oil, as they tend to soak up the oil. I found that I use less oil when using the non-stick skillet so it’s probably much healthier this way.
- Cook for a few minutes until the broccoli starts to soften a bit. Then add the chopped garlic and ginger. Cook one minute.
- Add the chicken back into the pan. Stir everything together. Then add in your soy sauce and optional stir fry sauce. I don’t usually measure this; I just drizzle enough in to make sure everything is coated with some sauce.
- Turn down the heat to low and simmer for about 2-3 minutes.
- Serve over rice, sprinkle with sesame seeds and/or chopped walnuts if desired.
Serves 2-4. In our house, serves two adults and one child with about one serving leftover for lunch the next day.