Friday, January 10, 2014

Cashew Chicken

Food delivery is always hit or miss in my book. Even one of our favorite restaurants doesn't always deliver when it comes to delivery.  Take-out is usually better, but by the time I get it home, then I need to reheat it. Have I mentioned I hate microwaving as a form of reheating? It ruins textures, not to mention you get hot spots.  And who wants to order take-out to have to pull out a pan to reheat that way? Not me, that's for sure.

I had bought a thing of cashews recently to make this Layered Thai Chicken Dip and had a good amount leftover.  So when trying to decide dinner the other night, I instantly thought Cashew Chicken. Now only to find a good recipe, one that preferably didn't include ketchup as an ingredient and one that didn't include frying. I ended up slightly adapting one that I found over at Brown Eyed Baker.

I was thrilled with the way this turned out - so was the Husband, who I think would've had me make another pan of it if he thought I'd do it.

The ginger, soy sauce and garlic are distinct flavors in this dish, but blend together to make a delicious sauce that coats the chicken and cashews perfectly.  The cashews give this great crunch and the greens of the green onion impart not only the perfect onion-y bite, but also another textural element and ultimately adds to the depth of flavor found in this take-out knock-off.

This was really easy to make and came together very quickly.  The perfect (and healthy) weeknight meal!

A couple of notes:
- Be sure to brown the chicken pieces well.  Many people (myself included) have had problems with chicken sticking to the bottom of the pan.  This is usually the result of the heat not being high enough and browning having not occurred properly. If you find yourself in this situation, crank the heat up a few notches and wait another minute or two. That should do the trick!
- I added Sambal Oelek (chile paste) to the sauce, as well as some red pepper flakes. We like heat and this added just a little bit. Don't be scared to add a tad bit of the Sambal Oelek!
- To save some time on a busy weeknight, you could definitely cut the chicken up and place it in the cornstarch mixture in the morning.  This would really allow the sherry and ginger flavors to be soaked up by the chicken.  I allowed the chicken to marinate for about three hours.
- I served this on basmati rice, but any rice would be nice.

Cashew Chicken

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons dry sherry (or cooking wine, or omit)
2 teaspoons minced, peeled fresh ginger
3½ teaspoons cornstarch, divided
Coarse salt
½ cup chicken, vegetable or beef broth
2 1/2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or 1 tbsp white vinegar + 1/4 tsp sugar)
2 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup cashews/cashew halves
2 green onions, white and green parts divided and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sambal oelek (optional)

In a medium bowl, toss the chicken with the sherry, ginger, and 1½ teaspoons cornstarch; season with coarse salt. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, 2 teaspoons cornstarch and sambal oelek, if using. Set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add half of the chicken and cook until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and cover with foil. Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the skillet and cook the remaining chicken (reduce the heat if the chicken is over-browning). Transfer to the covered plate.

In the same skillet, add the remaining teaspoon of vegetable oil. Add the cashews, garlic, and green onion whites. Cook, stirring constantly, until the garlic begins to soften, about 30 seconds. Whisk the sauce again to combine and add to the skillet along with the chicken. Cook until the sauce thickens, about 30 seconds. 


Serve over rice or noodles and top with the green onion greens.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! Just found your blog and I'm so glad I did. Cashews are my favorite and I can't wait to try this!

    ReplyDelete