October 25, 2012

Honey-Glazed Chicken and Walnuts


Honey-Glazed Chicken and Walnuts

At least once a week, sometimes more often, I do a stir-fry of some sort for dinner; usually two or three dishes get stir-fried for one meal. If I'm pressed for time, I'll use a store-bought sauce and a bag of pre-cut veggies. When I can, I'll prep the veggies myself, and if I have the ingredients necessary, I'll even make my own sauces. In any case, two words describe a stir-fried dinner: simple and delicious.

The key to a successful stir-fry is preparation. Every ingredient needs to be cut, all the seasonings and sauces set out, and all the equipment needs to be readied.  If you're using an ingredient twice, have it in two bowls, not one. With the high heat and quick cooking involved, the last thing you want to do is try to find something in the middle of frying. Ingredient size is also important. Each ingredient needs to finish at the same time, so some things need to be smaller than others.

Honey-Glazed Chicken and Walnuts is really too simple to need a recipe. Cut boneless, skinless chicken into bite-sized pieces, then salt generously and allow to rest about 30 minutes at room temperature. Dredge the chicken in well-salted flour, then quickly stir-fry using plain oil. When the chicken is nearly done, add some walnuts (glazed if you have them, raw if not), then honey to taste. Be careful because the honey can burn. Stir quickly to coat everything, then serve.

For the broccoli and red bell peppers side dish, cut the vegetables to the size you prefer. I made a sauce with equal parts oyster sauce, hoisin, dry sherry (because I don't have any Shaoxing rice wine), and Japanese soy sauce. For two crowns of broccoli and one red bell pepper I used a tablespoon of each of the sauce ingredients so that the veggies wouldn't be swimming in sauce; use more if you prefer. Once your pan is hot, add a bit of oil, then the peppers. Fry about 30 seconds or so until aromatic, then add the broccoli. Stir a few seconds, then add the sauce and cover. After about 3 minutes or so, it's done. Stir and serve.

Plain or fried rice on the side will complete this meal. If you chose to use plain rice, the entire meal, even using only one pan to stir-fry, should only take about 40 minutes, start to finish, and about half that time is waiting for the rice to cook and the chicken to rest.

If you have a wok, use it. Otherwise, use whatever pan you have that is reasonably deep with rounded sides and a lid. Yes, it will taste better if you use a properly-seasoned old wok over a very hot flame, but most American home kitchens don't have a wok burner, let alone a properly-seasoned wok of any age. Don't let yourself be intimidated by thinking one is necessary. You can make a very satisfying stir-fry in a good stainless-steel or even non-stick frying pan, so long as it's high quality.

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