Friday, May 27, 2011

Cookbook Test: Park City Cashew Chicken

I've had Rachel Ray's "365: No Repeats" for several years, but I've gotten so used to looking for recipes online that I often forget about my cookbooks.  The great thing about Rachel's recipes is that they truly live up to their "30-minute" moniker - they are easy, fast, and usually tasty.  After flying home from vacation in the afternoon last weekend, I definitely didn't want to slave away in the kitchen for hours (though let's be honest, I love cooking so much that it never feels like hours).  I flipped through a few cookbooks and settled on Rachel Ray's Park City Cashew Chicken (#108 of 365).  The dish was fantastic - spicy and sweet.  We also highly recommend the method of cooking rice with chicken stock and onions and will likely continue to cook our rice this way.  Be sure to adjust the chipotle based on your spiciness preference, because a little bit of chipotle goes a long way.

Park City Cashew Chicken
From "365: No Repeats" by Rachel Ray
Makes 4 servings

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large onion, 1/4 finely chopped, 3/4 thinly sliced
1-1/2 cups brown rice
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1-1/2 pounds chicken tenders or boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into 2" pieces
2 tablespoons grill seasoning (McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning)
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red or yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced (we used 1-1/2 peppers)
3 tablespoons chipotle in adobo (or 1-1/2 tbsp. ground chipotle powder)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup real maple syrup
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro (we skipped this)
1 cup raw cashews

In a medium pot over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and the butter.  When the butter melts into the oil, add the chopped onions and cook for two more minutes, then add the rice and cook for 3 minutes more.  Add the stock and cover the pot.  Raise the heat to bring the stock to a rapid boil.  Once the stock boils, reduce the heat to low, stirring occasionally, until the rice is tender, 17-18 minutes.

While the rice cooks, make the chicken.  Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, then the chicken.  Season the chicken with the grill seasoning.   Lightly brown the chicken on both sides, then move to one side of the pan.  Add the remaining onions, the garlic, and bell peppers.  Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then mix the vegetables and meat together and add the chipotles and cumin.  Toss to coat.  Glaze the mixture with honey and maple syrup and turn off the heat.  Add the chopped cilantro and the nuts.

Top the rice with the cashew chicken and serve.

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