Mary Anne here. This past weekend, when I ran into an old friend at the supermarket, he casually asked if I had stopped creating new recipes for Feast and was simply overseeing Mariel’s work. I literally stopped dead in my tracks. Two things struck me about the comment: first, I would never stop cooking, and secondly, clearly he doesn’t know anything about my beloved first-born – as if I could ever run her show!!
But the truth is, I have been fairly absent of late…and not due to a lack of interest. Sometimes life and its “minor” complications interfere, but I’m back now and so incredibly happy to be right here cooking and writing with my beautiful girl, Mariel!
When I first began cooking, wok-ery was all the rage (now I’m surely dating myself!) and no ‘70’s kitchen was complete without a well-seasoned hull and a half-circle rack to keep the meat warm whilst the vegetables sparkled, snapped, and sautéed in the smokin’ oil. To this day, creating homemade takeout continues to hold its charm and even though I am now forced to eschew carb-laden brown rice, given my ever-expanding waistline, contemporary Asian cuisine boasts lettuce “wraps” – a perfect accessory to a traditional feast!
I chose veggies that were either on hand or on sale, but for your own creation, opt for whatever strikes your fancy at the green grocer’s. The beauty of stir-fry is that nearly any vegetable is perfect, so long as you don’t over-cook it. Happy Spring, Happy Birthday Mariel, and here’s to all that promises to bloom in the coming months!
Lettuce Wraps Stuffed with Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry
2 lbs boneless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into ½ – inch thick strips – $8.25
coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper – stock
4 Tablespoons peanut or canola oil – stock
1 can of sliced water chestnuts – $0.89
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips – $0.81
1 large Vidalia onion, halved and thinly sliced – $1.71
4 cloves garlic, minced – stock
2-inch knuckle of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine – $0.24
¾ lb. broccoli florets – $1.13
½ lb. baby portobella mushrooms, sliced thin – $1.66
½ Teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
3 Tablespoons soy sauce – stock
3 Tablespoons rice wine or cooking sherry – stock
1 ½ teaspoons corn starch – stock
½ cup peanuts, cashews, or walnuts – optional
2 heads Boston lettuce, leaves separated, rinsed, and patted dry – $5.00
Hoisin or Plum Sauce – optional
Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry: $19.69
Total Per Serving: $2.46
1. Pat the chicken dry and cut into ½ inch thick strips. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper.
2. Over medium-high flame, heat the oil in a wok or very large sauté pan. Stir-fry the chicken strips until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked chicken to a plate and set aside.
3. Add all of the prepared vegetables, ginger, garlic, and hot red-pepper flakes to the pan. Stirring frequently, cook over medium-high flame until the onions and red pepper are tender, about 5 minutes or so.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, cornstarch, and rice vinegar (or sherry).
5. When the veggies are crisp-tender, stir in the soy mixture. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices along with the nuts, and heat through another minute or so.
6. Serve in lettuce cups. Top with a spoonful of Hoisin or Plum sauce, if desired.