Sunday, July 17, 2011

Asian Chicken Skillet

Recipe modified by You Want Me to Cook - February 25, 2011.
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in Simple and Delicious, December/January 2011.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m kind of a cynic.  I am especially critical of the Fantastic-30-Min-That-Is-Good-For-You-And-Easy recipe.  When I see these types of recipes, I usually roll my eyes hard enough to make me dizzy.  That doesn’t mean I don’t try to get it done in the time specified though.  When I see a 30-minute meal, I find it a personal challenge to get it done.  See, I fancy myself a moderately good chef.  I can’t create recipes but I can cook (and yes, there is a BIG difference), so I should be able to cook a 30-minute-meal in the time specified.  Alas, that is very rare for me.

Now, I present to you a one-pan recipe with 7 ingredients that can be done in 30-45 minutes.  I know what you’re thinking.  My BS detector went off almost immediately.  However, it actually happened.  I think this is the first time on record (for me that is).  I actually finished making it in 41 minutes with minimal equipment.  Is it “good for me?”  Well, it isn’t the healthiest dish I’ve made, but it wasn’t bad either.  I think for using convenience foods, this is probably as good as it’s going to get.

My finished meal:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Asian Chicken Skillet
This dish looked and smelled fantastic.  In fact, I considered eating it right off the serving spoon.  The chicken looked great and that came as a surprise to me.  To me, it always seems to dry out in a skillet.  I was glad I bought a stir-fry blend that had red and green peppers in it.  It gave the dish a little color (and flavor – of course)

Picture published with recipe:
© Simple & Delicious
My dish looked a little “saucier” which is a big plus for me.  In this picture, the chicken and rice look a little dry.  I guess what I’m saying is… MINE LOOKED YUMMIER THAN YOURS *insert raspberries here

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – If you found pre-cut raw chicken strips, this dish would have a NADA rating for mess.  The dishes were minimal and everything was done in a single pot, so no mess on the cabinets moving things around.

Start-to-Finish Time:  UNDER AN HOUR – The best part is that most of the time is not hands on.  The prep (of course) and browning the rice takes your attention, but then it is hands-off for the rest.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – I hate cutting up raw chicken.  It isn’t hard, but it is just so slimy… and then I have to scrub my hands after because it grosses me out.  True story, I’ve never cooked a whole chicken because I can’t stand the thought of sticking my hand inside and pull out the inside.  Maybe one day… one day…

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – This would be a dish I’d let my teenager cook (if I had one) while I wasn’t home.  It reminded me of the box dishes we’d cook while home during summer vacation, but much, much better.

OverallYUMMY – This is the type of dish that you make when you don’t have a lot of time but want to give your family a rounded healthy meal.  It is on my refrigerator as a go-to when I can’t think of what else to make and am on the run.

Recipe Information:
I am not a doctor or dietician.  I make my nutritional assessments with the aid of Calorie Count.  I run the original recipe and my altered recipe through their calorie counter and then compute the differences I find.  My numbers are to be used as a guideline.  Anyone who is under dietary medical supervision should follow the advice of their medical professional if their opinion differs from mine.  PLEASE!

Prep/Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 servings

Nutritional Information (1½ cups – serving)
  • Calories 397
  • Fat 9 g (4 g saturated)
  • Cholesterol 78 mg
  • Sodium 955 mg
  • Carbohydrate 49 g
  • Fiber 6 g
  • Protein 31 g
I almost made the 30 minute time limit.  Actually, if I had a little more heat on my simmer to finish off the dish, I probably would have made it, or at least gotten it within a couple of minutes.  Here is the breakdown of my timing:
  • Prep: 6 minutes
  • Rice Browned in: 7 minutes
  • Time to Boil: 3 minutes
  • Cook: 10 minutes
  • Add Vegetables and Finish Dish: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 41 minutes
At first, I thought the 1½ cup serving was laughable.  Then I saw how much was included in the size of the serving.  It was more than enough.  Serve it with a soup or salad with a nice dinner or pretzel roll and you probably could get 5-6 meals out of this dish.

Obviously the glaring issue of the nutritional information is the high sodium content.  The bulk of the sodium comes from the Rice and Vermicelli mix – box meals tend to have high sodium content.  If you can find a reduced-sodium rice blend that is similar, I would definitely use it.  I didn’t make any changes to the ingredient listing because they already used reduced sodium where there was some available.  I ran it through Calorie Counter anyway to check the accuracy and this is the result:
  • Calories 415
  • Total Fat 14.6g (Saturated Fat 6.0g)
  • Cholesterol 116mg
  • Sodium 722mg
  • Total Carbohydrates 32.4g
  • Dietary Fiber 1.0g
  • Sugars 1.9g
  • Protein 36.6g

For me, the results were a little more than curious.  It is slightly higher in calories, fat and cholesterol, but lower in sodium.  What the… this is why you always do a little extra research if you have dietary issues that need to be addressed.

Changes denoted by red text

© You Want Me to Cook?
Asian Chicken Skillet
1 package (5.9 ounces) chicken-flavored rice & vermicelli mix
2 tablespoons butter
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2-1/4 cups water
1/4 cup reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 package (16 ounces) frozen stir-fry vegetable blend, thawed

© You Want Me to Cook?
Asian Chicken Skillet
Ingredients - Chicken
Ingredient Notes:
Chicken &  Garlic-Flavored Rice & Vermicelli Mix – The original recipe used a chicken and garlic flavored mix.  I was shopping at my favorite discount grocer, Aldi, and found a generic alternative that was chicken flavored only.  I’m beginning to wonder if the generic brand I used really did affect the sodium level to that extent.  Oh well, either way, it tasted great.

Frozen Stir-Fry Vegetable Blend – There are a lot of different kinds of stir-fry blends out there, but if you’re looking for a great tasting dish, try to select one with red and green peppers and onions.  I think it gave the dish great color and flavor.

Equipment Needed:
© You Want Me to Cook?
Asian Chicken Skillet
Raw Meat Cutting board
Sharp knife
Dutch Oven
Large Spoon

Equipment Notes:
Raw Meat Cutting Board – Just a friendly reminder that it is not advised to use a wooden cutting board to cut up raw meat.  The wood can absorb the raw meat juices and contaminate it.  I have two cutting boards, a plastic one that I prepare raw meat and a wooden one for everything else.  Just gives me a little piece of mind.

Dutch Oven / Large Skillet – The original recipe called for use of a “large skillet.”  If you have a large skillet, make sure it is also deep.  You will be cooking over two cups of water with a large amount of vegetables at the same time with the chicken.  If you don’t have a large skillet that is also deep, use your Dutch oven.  My large skillet… not even CLOSE to holding this much liquid and food.

(1)  In a Dutch Oven, melt the butter over medium-high heat.

(2)  Add and sauté rice mix in butter until golden brown, approximately 7 minutes.

(3)  Stir in the chicken, water, teriyaki sauce, ginger and contents of rice seasoning packet.

(4)  Bring to a boil. Reduce heat (to about medium-low); cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

Bringing the water to a boil took me about 3 minutes.

(5)  Stir in vegetable blend. Cover and cook 5-8 minutes longer or until rice is tender and chicken is no longer pink.

It actually took me 15 minutes longer because I had a lot of liquid left and the rice wasn't tender, so be prepared to do it for that long.

There is an individual who has based her entire chef’s career on making homemade food from convenience ingredients.  I’m not sure I buy this as a healthy lifestyle (says the woman who has been eating a lot of fast food lately), but I don’t think it hurts to make it every so often when you are pressed for time.  All that considered, this wouldn’t be a bad recipe to have standing by in case of a dining emergency.

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