Monday, February 8, 2010

Kung Pao - Flavor Wow!

I love a good Kung Pao - how 'bout you? I tried making it for the first time a couple of years ago and immediately fell in love with it. The recipe originally came from Hungry Girl.com but I;'m telling you....there's no way you'd ever know it was 'good for you'. This dish is killer to the 'nth' degree! I've tweaked it a bit to suite our tastes and I increased the amount it makes as well as the leftovers are a must for lunch the next day. I even like it cold! Give this a try - you will NOT be disappointed!!
I've posted the recipe below, so I won't talk exact measurements here. You begin with a good amount of prep... first up, veggies...one green pepper, one red pepper, some celery stalks and an onion. I like my peppers in about a 1/2 inch dice - celery too. Onions, a little smaller.
Next, chop up a can of water chestnuts - these add a great flavor and I love the crunch.
Mix up all the ingredients for the sauce that will pull the whole thing together. This includes water, soy sauce (I like reduced sodium), corn starch, rice vinegar, hot chili sauce, sugar (I use Splenda) - and in this picture I show garlic - but that really cooks with the veggies - not sure how it ended up here! Lastly, the chicken. I use about 4 good sized breasts - cut inot 1/2 inch size chunks.
I don't have pics - but please note that I started a pot of white rice just before I began my prep. I use 1 3/4 cups rice to 3 cups water with a pat of butter and a good pinch of salt. You don't have to make the rice with the Kung Pao - I like it by itself, but the hubs and daughter prefer it with rice.
Over medium high heat, pour a little olive oil and add the chicken. Season well with salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and, if you have it, a little butt-rub (a blend with a little kick)!
Cook the chicken just until done, but not browned.
Transferthe cooked chicken to a plate to hang out for a bit.
Toss all those beautiful veggies into the hot pan. They look like pretty jewels, don't they?!
Season the veggies with salt and pepper and cook until crisp-tender...about 5 to 7 minutes. Actually, if you like lots of crunch to your veggies, cook them a little less - more if you prefer them softer.
When the veggies are done, add the chicken back in (don't add in the liquid that has drained off the chicken though...it can make the whole works a little too runny later on.
Take the sauce ingredients that you whisked together earlier and stir them again as the corn starch has probably settle to the bottom. Once well mixed again, pour the sauce mixture into the pan and bring up the heat so it starts to boil.
Add in the lovely chopped water chestnuts.....
...and the all important peanuts! I use salted cocktail peanuts...you could use cashews if you like ;-)
Plate up your rice and ladle on the Kung Pao! Top with a few more peanuts if you like (we DO like!). The hubs likes a lot of heat so he squirts on additional chili sauce...you make yours to your desired spiciness. Enjoy this spicy, flavorful, awesome dish!
Kung Pao Chicken
Ingredients:
1 Tblsp olive oil
1 diced green pepper
1 diced red pepper
4 to 6 stalks diced celery
1 medium diced onion
1 Tblsp minced garlic

3 large (or 4 smaller) skinless chicken breasts cut into small pieces (1/2 inch or so)

Sauce ~
4 Tblsp cold water
4 Tblsp low sodium soy sauce
2 Tblsp rice wine vinegar
1 ½ Tblsp cornstarch
4 individual packets Splenda sweetener (or about 1 ½ t)
2 ½ tsp red chili sauce (‘rooster’ sauce). Add more if you like, but this makes it extra hot and spiiiiicy!

½ cup (or one tune-sized can) water chestnuts, diced
½ to ¾ cup unsalted peanuts
*if you chooose, cook up some white rice to serve under the kung pao - 1 3/4 cups rice to 3 cups water - add a pat of buter and a good pinch of salt). Keep rice warm until kung pao is ready.

Directions:
Begin by sautéing the chicken, cooking just until no longer pink – but do not brown the chicken (it’ll make the chunks dry by the time everything is done cooking). Transfer chicken to a plate and add teh veggies to the hot pan. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes until crisp-tender.

While the veggies are cooking, whisk together the sauce ingredients until well combined and no lumps remain from the cornstarch.

Once veggies are done, add the chicken back in and fold to combine. Whisk sauce ingredients once more then add to the pan and fold into chicken and veggies. Add water chestnuts and peanuts and stir to combine.

Enjoy!

Makes approx six servings – enough for a family, or, is great reheated if you have any leftovers – it’s even awesome cold!

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