Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Good Eats, My Fridge and a Chinese Night

I love, love, love the show Good Eats.  Alton Brown is smart, insightful and I connect with his humor.  The ironic part?  I don't have cable but once upon a time we lived in an apartment and had cable included in our rent.  I was hooked.  Watching Good Eats was always a delight in the evening.  Now that I don't have cable, although we do have this slim white box that picks-up five or six HD channels, I digress, I miss EWTN and Food Network, specifically Good Eats.  Not that this post is supposed to be a sob story :)  Truly, if it was up to me, we would have life without TV, but that's another day, another post.

SO, as indicated above, I have an interest in cooking that has started to bloom in the few years of marriage,  especially now I have my own house with my own kitchen.  Now, in my kitchen is a refrigerator/freezer.  Yes, I have one of those fancy bottom drawer freezers.  Yes, I got it on sale.  Yes, it has a huge scratch across the front of the bottom drawer.  And Yes, I did talk the guy at Best Buy down $100 bucks or so.  And Yes, I love buying clearance/unwanted/lonely items, if they are a need and at the time we had a mini-fridge.  So we rescued our fridge and all have been happy since!

Sheesh, this post is longer than intended.  So, we're in the kitchen looking at the fridge.  In that fridge is leftover rice.  Yes, rice and gravy and a meat happens in my kitchen at least once a week and there is always leftover rice.  I also happened to have two pounds of carrots (saving grace for a teething baby), frozen bell pepper slices (bought the whole peppers on sale and preppedy them this way), and locally grown green beans among other stuff.  I also had two boneless/skinless chicken thighs defrosting.  I had no plan, until I was divinely inspired to pursue chicken fried rice! Attention poor college students/poor married couples THIS MEAL IS DELICIOUS AND CHEAP!  It easily fed two adults to "full" capacity.  If you don't have eggs, no sweat.  I had none and it came out better than normal (?!).

Tamari sauce (gluten free soy sauce)
two boneless skinless chicken thighs/one boneless skinless chicken breast
leftover rice (even better if it's still in the pot)
 2/3 cup carrots
one onion (these are cheap and make a HUGE difference in flavor)
2/3 cup bell peppers (expensive if not on exclude if necessary)
 2/3 cup green beans
 1/2 cup sweet peas (none in the house this time, but always good too)
white pepper
olive oil or butter or coconut oil

My amounts for veggies are approximate.  Don't be caught-up in amounts.  Use what you have, but remember - the more veggies, the healthier and more flavorful your fried rice!

1. Sprinkle salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil in a skillet/shallow pot.  Cook chicken.  When it is nearly thoroughly cooked, add diced onions and saute until onions start to caramelize.
While the chicken is cooking, put the rice on the stove with the heat on a low setting just to warm the rice up.  Put a spalsh of water so no rice sticks to the bottom.

2. Chop other veggies while all the above is happening.

3. Once the rice has started to warm, shake in your Tamari sauce (friends...this sauce isn't cheap but it will last you at least six months to a year.  it's an investment to your palate) to a desired color/taste.  If you don't like a lot of sauce, you can put a splash of water too.  Check your chicken.  You can probably put it on low.  But check.  Please. 

4. Add chopped veggies to the rice pot and a splash of water.  You can do a salt sprinkle too. Turn the heat up to a medium-low setting.  Note:  You should be stirring the onions and chicken as it caramelizes, but let the rice and veggie pot simmer without stirring.

5.  When your chicken is totally cooked, give the chicken and onions one good big stir and move it all to one side of the skillet/pot.  Dump into rice pot.  Yes, even the grease.  We live in Louisiana.  Are you crazy? We love grease! Come on, just dump it all.  Plus, it's the good fat.  It's not like a Little Debbie Oatmeal Pie...chicken grease is much more normal. 

6. Stir. Stir. Stir. Stir that rice pot!  I bet you're so amazed at that leftover rice.  Cover and let it all come together for about five minutes.  After a minute or two add a splash of water and stir so that nothing sticks at the bottom.  Cover for the remaining of the five minutes.

7.  Spoon out and enjoy a healthy, affordable, steamy meal! 

Cost per serving?  This is a rough estimate:
.10 Tamari sauce
$1.29 for two boneless skinless chicken thighs (from Fresh Market)
.75 for 3/4 cup rice cooked (local rice - a nutritious variety and cheaper variety combined)
.15 carrots (buy the whole carrots, it's much more affordable and only takes a few minutes to chop)
.20 onion
.50 bell peppers (this is considering that they won't be on sale.  don't be fancy.  just but the green ones.)
.50 green beans (locally grown)
.25 sweet peas (frozen)
.01 salt and pepper combined
.05 oil

$3.80 for two adult servings (a man who does manual labor and a nursing mom)


$1.90 per serving

Way cheaper than any take-out and I dare say MUCH tastier!

Bon appetit mes amis!

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