Monday, January 10, 2011

Chicken Fried Rice with Leeks and Dried Cranberries

I found this recipe in last month's Cooking Light where Mark Bittman updates our ideas about fried rice. If you have leftover rice in your fridge, this is a good way to use it. It was a very tasty and quick meal (you can make the whole thing in 26 minutes). Also, it provides a great excuse to buy a bottle of wine, use a little bit for cooking, and drink the rest. At times, the recipe calls for letting the rice brown in the pan without stirring it. If you're like me, you will find it almost impossible to leave anything in a wok unstirred for more than 30 seconds. But do it! Bittman definitely knows what he's talking about when it comes to the texture of food. Plus, the downtime is a perfect opportunity to pour yourself a glass of wine.

I'm basically copying the recipe as it appeared in Cooking Light (see below), but here are a few ideas for next time...
  • Dried cranberries are great. Next time, though, I'd rehydrate the cranberries in white wine first, so there would be little, juicy "taste explosions" in this dish. To rehydrate, all you need to do is put the cranberries in the wine for about an hour.
  • For vegetarians or those trying to eat less meat (a great idea), I think chickpeas would work equally well in this recipe.
  • It's always a good idea to eat more vegetables, so I might throw a little broccoli in next time. The leeks really decrease in volume after you cook them, so some extra vegetable bulk might be nice.
Chicken Fried Rice with Leeks and Dried Cranberries

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 lb. skinless, boneless chicken, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 cups thinly sliced leeks (about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 1/2 cups cooked, chilled long-grain brown rice
1 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon fresh sage (I'd suggest using a little more)
1/4 cup dry white wine (again, a little extra never hurt, especially if your leftover rice is a little dry)
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a little olive oil to the pan, swirling to coat. Sprinkle chicken with a little salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan, and saute for 3 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove the chicken from the pan.
  2. Add leek, a little black pepper, and salt to the pan; saute for 4 minutes or until leek is tender and golden. Add leek mixture to chicken.
  3. Add about 1 tbsp. olive oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add rice, stirring well to coat rice with oil; cook, without stirring, 2 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Stir rice mixture; cook again without stirring, 2 minutes or until edges begin to brown.
  4. Stir in chicken mixture, cranberries, and sage. Add wine; cook for 2 minutes or until mixture is dry, stirring constantly.
*We had leftovers, so I'd say this could serve 4 people or 3 three particularly hungry people.
*I had some extra leeks, so I threw them in with scrambled eggs and cheese the next morning. I'd never had leeks with eggs but it was delicious.

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