Last night's dinner was very nearly a complicated messup. This was largely due to my appalling memory skills, in that we ate the greater part of a head of broccoli that was meant to be for that night's dinner, the night before with the Cottage Pie.
I had completely forgotten that I'd scheduled peas & carrots with the Cottage Pie.
So, yesterday morning dawned and as I was considering what needed to be got out of the freezer in preparation, I realised that we'd eaten most of the broccoli. Hubby wasn't terribly pleased by this news, as we'd had broccoli twice that week and he was then looking at yet another dose of broccoli. This is not a good thing, apparently. Then Son & heir chimed in and declared that he didn't like the sound of the Broccoli Chicken anyway and why couldn't we have something else?
So, while I was still gritting my teeth and trying not to snap, Hubby came up with a compromise that was (puts tongue firmly in cheek) painful for me, but would save the day the cheapest way possible. His suggestion was that Son & heir had (~sob~) the leftover Cottage Pie (~sob~) that I was angling to have for lunch, instead of the Broccoli Chicken and we got some Green Beans for him to have and to bolster the little bit of broccoli we had left. Having mopped my tears (I absolutely LOVE leftover Cottage Pie cold the next day) and made Hubby swear to buy some mushrooms to go with the chicken too, that problem was solved.
Another problem turned out to be that all of my shallots had gone manky. Thankfully, I had half a bunch of Spring Onions, which made a lovely stand-in.
This is why the Ken Hom Broccoli Chicken turned into Jenny Eatwell's Chestnut Mushroom, Green Bean and Broccoli Chicken - based on a Ken Hom recipe. LOL
I'll tell you what, though, it was jolly lovely - and far more interesting than just broccoli would have been.
However, the best and most useful part of cooking this dish was not matching the vegetables, but learning - quite by accident - how to "velvet" chicken. This is the process by which your local Chinese takeaway manages to keep chicken so soft and moist - and is well worth learning. I'd seen Ken "velvet" chicken on the Good Food Channel's "Perfect" t.v. show and had tucked the information behind my ear to examine at a later date. However, completely unnoticed by me when I gave the recipe its first read-through, the first bit of real cooking involved in this dish is to do just that - velvet the chicken. It's basically to marinate the strips of chicken in whatever flavours you want, so long as it includes cornflour and sesame oil, for around 20 minutes. Goodness, but it made all the difference! I'll definitely velvet chicken again when I'm doing a chinese style dish - it only takes a second and is very worthwhile.
I paired the chicken dish with Jasmine rice which was very acceptable, although it has to be said that a good special fried rice would have been better - and even better than that, from the chicken's point of view, would be to include some water chestnuts with it. Because of that, I've added them as an ingredient in my recipe.
12 April 2013 : I've just made this again (see photograph on the left there) and this time, as I didn't have any green beans I added two small sweet red peppers and left the water chestnuts out (again). I didn't have any basil in either, so just left it out.
I also used my favorite stock - Essential Cuisine's fantastic chicken stock and the lovely vegetable stock in which I cooked the rice. This time, I paired the chicken up with lemon rice - which son & heir absolutely loved. He ate the lot, chestnut mushrooms, broccoli, everything. You see? What a couple of months (or so) will do for a boy.
BROCCOLI, BEAN & MUSHROOM CHICKEN (serves 2)
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 skinless & boneless chicken breasts, sliced thinly into strips
half a bunch of spring onions, trimmed and sliced along the diagonal
1 clove of garlic, grated
half a tsp finely ground black pepper
1 tbsp Mirrin, rice wine or dry sherry
2 tbsp Oyster sauce
100g small broccoli florets (cut them smaller, if they are large and also include the stalks, cut on the diagonal)
100g green beans, chopped into 4
4 chestnut mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
a small tin of water chestnuts, sliced
150ml chicken stock
handful of basil leaves.
For the marinade :
2 tsp low salt soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp cornflour.
1. In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the marinade ingredients and leave to marinade at room temperature for 20 minutes or as long as it takes to prepare the vegetables.
2. Heat the wok over a high heat, then add one tbsp of the sunflower oil and the chicken. Stir-fry for 5 minutes or so until the chicken is golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to keep warm.
3. Reheat the wok and add the other tbsp of oil. Stir fry the spring onions and garlic for 2 minutes until softened.
4. Add the pepper, mirrin (or whatever you are using) and oyster sauce and stir-fry for a minute or so.
5. Now add the vegetables and the chicken stock. Bring to the boil, cover and cook for around 5 minutes.
6. Return the chicken to the wok and cook for a minute or so until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Finally, add the fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.