So, since this is about me and my life, I get to write about what I want. And today it is about my dinner.
I have, over the last few years, discovered a love of cooking. It started with very simple stuff, back in university – grilled or baked chicken, mashed potatoes, canned green beans. And half the time, the chicken was flavoured and from M&M Meat Shops. Since then, I developed a love of actually flavouring my own stuff, and trying out new things. I have dozens of spices, sauces, etc around my kitchen. Sometimes, I just like to go for comfort, and some of that revolves around my moms cooking. Her lasagna, and her sweet & sour meatballs with pineapple are both fabulous. Sometimes, I like to go all out, flip open a cookbook, and see where it takes me. I have ten cookbooks on my bookshelf and almost 600 recipes in my Paprika app. It can get a bit overwhelming.
But tonight. Tonight was about simplicity. I wanted to make a stir fry. I usually make it with teriyaki sauce (or something similar) and a boatload of rice. I didn’t have any teriyaki sauce. PANIC! But no, let’s Google this shit. Let’s find something else, something that uses what I already have on hand. I bastardized a recipe I found on WebMD.
(and yes, I need to work on my food photography skills.)
Below is the original recipe; following that is my thoughts and adaptations.
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken, cut into 2″ pieces
- 1 tbsp oil (olive, canola, etc)
- 1 16-ounce package frozen bell pepper and onion mix
- Combine sugar, paprika, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a medium bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover, and refrigerate for 15 minutes to 24 hours.
- Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over high heat. Add pepper and onion mix and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until chicken is no longer pink in the centre, 3-5 minutes. Serve hot.
The spice mix: I’m terrible at exact measures, which I think is actually helpful in a dish like this. My single teaspoon measures were pretty accurate, but as I currently don’t have anything smaller, I eyeballed the smaller measures. I ended up with more cayenne and more black pepper than was called for, but I like a bit of bite so it worked out. I used my fingers to mix the chicken with the spices, ensuring all pieces got some. Yes, I washed my hands afterwards. My chicken marinated for almost an hour.
The veggies: Why on earth would you use a frozen bell pepper mix when fresh is so much better? Instead of the bagged mix, I used half a Spanish onion, a whole red pepper, a whole orange pepper, and half a green pepper that had turned itself yellow. While allowing the chicken to marinate in the spice mix, I cut the veggies up and tossed them in a bowl for safekeeping. In addition, I minced three cloves of garlic and sautéed that in olive oil for a couple of minutes before adding the veggies.
So, I sautéed the garlic in the oil, added the veggies, danced around in the simmering smell, and then dumped in the chicken. I was focused on ensuring the chicken cooked through, so I ended up with some nice char-grilled looking pepper pieces. Fun! Once the chicken was done cooking, I wanted to ensure that the dish wasn’t too dry, so I popped a lid on the pan for a minute and let some steam build up. This created a tiny little bit of sauce and tasted excellent.
We chose to eat this exactly as is – no rice, no noodles. It made three servings, but don’t you worry – there are no leftovers. We devoured it. I’m glad I took a photo in the kitchen, as once it hit the table, it didn’t last too long! The paprika added a nice smoky flavour to the dish, and was a great complement to the cayenne. And next time, I will ensure to use my green pepper while it’s still green, so it can add more contrast against the onion and the orange pepper. Without the red pepper, this would have been almost a single-colour dish.
Simplicity. Yes. It works.