Friday, December 19, 2008

Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken

I came across what many have likely already discovered in GOOP - Gwyneth Paltrow's new lifestyle blog. While I loved Emma, Shakespeare in Love, and others as much as the next angsty adolescent of the 90s, I have no strong feelings either way about the actress. Some are rather affronted by her penchant for privacy and using big words, but really, if she's become as successful and happy as Ms. Paltrow appears to be, is it such a bad thing to take some of her advice? When fashion magazines clamber for crumbs of detail about stars' diets, hair, make-up, and exercise habits, what makes us so reluctant to take their lifestyle advice as well? There seem to be some threshold where we draw the line when it comes to someone telling us how to live. It seems to be different for everyone, but it's interesting to see how it plays out.

All that aside, I've been happily exploring her newsletters on food. One dish she highlighted from Food and Wine magazine particularly appealed to me. It goes sweet, if that is your preference (it was not Mr. Pleasant's) but you can reduce the amount of brown sugar if you like it a little more savory. Serve it over, or throw in steamed veggies - along with jasmine or brown rice.

Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken
from Food and Wine Magazine, via GOOP

SERVES: 4 generously
TIME: 10 minutes

  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar (unrefined)
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 or 2 fresh Thai chilis (to your taste!), halved
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 pounds organic boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces (1/2”)
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
In a small bowl, combine the sugar, fish sauce, vinegar, water, garlic, ginger, pepper and chili and reserve.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the shallots until softened and a bit brown, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken and stir-fry, browning it all over, about a minute. Add the sugar mixture and simmer over high heat until the chicken is totally cooked through, about 6 minutes. Stir in the cilantro and serve.

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