Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wok -- or bwawwk -- this way

Chicken and wok combine in a few new recipes that came our way today from the National Chicken Council. Both call for chicken tenders, which isn't my favorite cut of chicken because of the expense and the tendency to dry out if it's overcooked (a chance that is greatly reduced because of the short-but-intense period of wok cooking).

A standard in Asian cooking, woks are also common in many American kitchens, as they provide a fast, easy and healthful method of preparing foods. And while stir-frying may be the cooking method most associated with woks, they can also be used to braise, stew, steam or even deep-fry things like chicken. Stove-top woks, suitable for either gas or electric ranges, or electric woks with a non-stick finish, all work equally well. Their round-bottom shape provides uniform heat distribution, ensuring a quick cooking time.

From the National Chicken Council and the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association, here are two new chicken recipes to try in a wok. Both can also be prepared in a large frying pan, cooked over medium high heat.

Chicken and Sugar Snap Pea Curry is a spicy delicious dish that features boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced to a two-inch size. Start by making a curry sauce: sauté onion, curry powder, chili powder, diced jalapeno pepper and ginger in a saucepan, and add canned tomatoes and coconut milk. Cook the chicken pieces in the wok, along with whole sugar snap peas. Combine the chicken and peas with the curry sauce and serve over a favorite rice, like basmati. Add steamed carrots or zucchini, or grilled eggplant to complete the meal.

Chipotle Chicken, Sweet Onion and Cabbage Tacos is another fast and easy meal that is full of Southwest flavors. Cook diced onion in the wok, along with hot pepper sauce, cumin and sliced chicken tenders. When finished cooking, add lime juice for a cooling tang. Serve the chicken mixture on warmed tortillas, along with bagged coleslaw mix, cilantro, diced avocado and bottled salsa. Black beans and rice would be a perfect complement to this dish.

Chicken and Sugar Snap Pea Curry

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, sliced thinly
2 TBLS canola oil
1 TBLS ground coriander
2 cups fresh sugar snap peas

1 TBLS canola oil
1 onion, diced (about 1 cup)
1 TBLS curry powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp jalapeno pepper, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk
2 tsps salt
¼ tsp black pepper

In medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm 1 tablespoon canola oil. Add onion, curry powder, chili powder, jalapeno pepper and ginger. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add drained tomatoes, coconut milk, salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium high and bring mixture to a boil; lower heat to simmer and cook until sauce has thickened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons canola oil to a wok and place over high heat. When oil is hot, add chicken slices and coriander, stirring constantly. Cook chicken until almost done (about 5 – 7 minutes) and add sugar snap peas. Continue to cook, stirring, 3 minutes.

Combine chicken and curry sauce mixture; simmer 3 – 5 minutes to blend flavors.

Serve over rice.

Nutrition Information, Per Serving:
410 calories; 22 g fat; 9 g saturated fat; 17 g carbohydrate; 37 g protein

Chipotle Chicken, Sweet Onion and Cabbage Tacos

Makes 6

1 pound chicken tenders, halved

Stir Fry:
1 large onion, halved and sliced (about 2 cups)
2 TBLS canola oil
½ tsp hot pepper sauce
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
1 TBLS lime juice (from half of lime)

2 cups packaged coleslaw mix
½ cups cilantro leaves
1 ripe avocado, sliced thin
½ cup fresh salsa
12 eight-inch soft flour tortillas, warmed according to package directions
½ cup sour cream

In wok, heat oil over high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring and tossing, for 5 minutes or until onion is translucent. Add hot pepper sauce, cumin, salt, pepper and chicken. Continue stir-frying for 5 to 7 minutes, or until chicken is just cooked through. Add lime juice and remove from heat.

To serve, place a small amount of the chicken and onion mixture in the middle of a warm tortilla. Top with coleslaw mix, cilantro, avocado and salsa. Add dollop of sour cream; fold both sides of tortilla over the ingredients.

Nutrition Information, Per Serving:
550 calories; 23 g fat; 6 g saturated fat; 60 g carbohydrate; 26 g protein