Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Ranch Chicken

And... we're back!  After struggling through the first trimester, (yes, I'm pregnant with baby #2!) I'm finally back to cooking.  Though my sciatic was killing me by the end of dinner AND dessert preparation - it felt so good to be back in the kitchen!  And creating a new recipe to boot.  Love it.  Baby is doing a happy dance too.

Ranch Chicken

1.5 lbs chicken, chopped to bite size (about 1" squares)
2 T olive oil

In bowl or gallon zip-top bag combine:
1 packet ranch seasoning
1 T corn starch
1 T parsley flakes
1 t dill weed
1 t onion powder
1 t salt
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t ground pepper

I use a non-stick wok for cooking dishes like these.  I love the wok because you can cook lots of food very rapidly.  I use it for most of my chicken recipes and recommend investing in one.  Pick up a non-stick version, and grab a set of bamboo tools while you're at it.  That angled spatula will be your go-to for the wok.  This is now my second and I've never spent over $30- so even an inexpensive one should last you 5-7 years.  Well worth it to be able to cook chicken in 14 minutes!

Okay - enough about the wok.  Because, you can make this in a traditional pan - just select a big enough pan that you give the pieces plenty of surface room so they can brown up.

Toss chicken in spice mix.

Preheat olive oil on high.  Add chicken and toss to coat, then let sit until browned. This will happen pretty fast due to the corn starch in this recipe, so keep close watch. Stir with a downward thrust into the middle of the pan, shifting the bottom pieces up to the side, and the side pieces down to the bottom.  Allow to brown again, then stir again (same motion).  Once you've reached the browning that you want, just keep stirring.

With the heat on high, you don't want to let it sit very long in one place or it will burn.  If you will not be able to give this pan your attention for 10 solid minutes, you should give your active time to browning and then turn the heat down to medium to continue cooking.  It will just take longer.  I like to check the doneness of my chicken by cutting a piece in half with my spatula.  If it breaks quickly and the juices run clear, it's done.  If I have to really push to get it to cut, or if the juices are still pink/red, it needs more time.

I served this over mashed red potatoes, broccoli, and some fresh pineapple I snagged on sale!  We had enough for dinner and lunch, since the potatoes also helped to fill our tummies.  

For dessert we had chocolate cupcakes with vanilla italian meringue buttercream.  I'm a big fan of the easier preparation on the italian version, but I like the slightly denser texture of the swiss meringue buttercream.  (Read: I could make myself sick on frosting shots. This from the girl who will scrape traditional buttercream frosting off a cake to avoid it.  I'm a frosting snob. Sigh).
If you've never made a meringue buttercream, I highly recommend it - assuming you have access to a stand mixer, it is well worth the effort.  HERE is the recipe I used for the italian version.  The swiss is out of my Joy of Cooking cookbook.  I used a chocolate cake mix, and added 1 T cocoa powder and 1 t vanilla.  Because you can't go wrong with extra chocolate and vanilla.