Monday, December 2, 2013

Meaty Monday: Cashew Chicken with Leeks & Broccoli

There is a popular slow cooker recipe for Cashew Chicken that is floating on the web these days. I tried it. It's OK, a bit bland, and it has been around for years. I DO have a problem with it, though. All the cooking instructions have you cook it in the slow cooker for 3 to 4 hours. Really? Who the hell is going to dirty a big, ole crock to cook something for 3 hours?  For 3 hours, I'll use a covered fry pan and the stove or oven.  Easier to clean a fry pan than a crock. If I'm making something in my slow cooker, it better be able to stay in there all day, while I go do other things. Like work, shop, or play with the kids at the park. All day. Which isn't just 3 hours.

Another thing, why would you WANT to cook chicken parts in a slow cooker that long? Do your want dinner, or mush? Small chicken cuts cook so fast, I can't imagine why you wouldn't do something like this wonderful Cashew Chicken we have often at our house.

This cashew chicken dish takes about 30 minutes to make and easy to fix, even after a miserable Monday full of ringing phones, whining co-workers and traffic delays. It's juicy, saucy,. toothsome and comforting at the end of a loooong day. There's also no clunky crock to clean.

Note: You may be able to make this from what's hanging around on your fridge door --I've got hoisin, ketchup, and minced ginger there all the time. Even easier, substitute an onion for the leek, and get the ready-to-heat cooked rice for a good, fast weeknight meal. This dish is gluten free if your Asian condiments are all gluten free.

Cashew Chicken with Leeks & Broccoli
all pretty on my favorite platter from Sophie Conran.

Cashew Chicken with Leeks & Broccoli

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 boneless chicken breasts halves, about 4-5 ounces each, in 1" chunks
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
2 Tablespoons organic canola or peanut oil

1 large carrot, cut in ribbons with a vegetable peeler
1 large leek, white part only, in wafer thin slices

1 broccoli crown, broken in florets

3 garlic cloves, minced or 1 tsp. jarred garlic
1 Tablespoon minced fresh ginger, or jarred crushed ginger
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2  Tablespoons  organic ketchup
1 Tablespoon wheat free tamari soy
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper or a few dashes of hot sauce
1/2 cup chicken stock or water

1 cup roasted cashew halves
thin sliced scallion for garnish, optional but nice

Cooked rice

Instructions:

1. In a zip top bag, shake the chicken and the cornstarch together until the chicken is coated.  In a small bowl, mix the garlic, the ginger, the vinegar, ketchup, tamari, honey and the  hot pepper sauce if using. Heat the oil in a large nonstick pan on medium-high heat, and brown the chicken on at least two sides, about 2-3 minutes a side. Add the leeks and carrots, stir, and reduce the heat to low, stirring occasionally.

2. Cook the broccoli, by steaming or microwaving, set aside. Add the ketchup mixture to the chicken, along with the stock or water, bring to a simmer, and cover. Cook for 5 -7 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the cashews, and serve with rice, garnished with a ring of broccoli and a sprinkling of scallion.