Maybe it doesn’t come in a cute box complete with a move-inspired prize, but this chicken stir-fry is my version of a happy meal. True, it’s a far cry from the one that’s been forever branded into our heads by that double arches fast food chain, but this one not only tastes good but is actually good for you too!
I ❤️ a good stir-fry and this one is loaded with so many of my favorite things. There are cubes of tender, white meat chicken, lots of crisp veggies, a light and slightly sweet soy sauce-based sauce, plus the crunch of roasted peanuts.
And while these are all relatively ordinary ingredients, magic happens when you stir-fry them all together here, transforming them into a memorable, winner-of-a dish! I’ve made this twice in the last 2 weeks and no one is complaining!
It’s also an incredibly versatile dish—here I used celery, carrots, scallions and snow pea pods but you could easily sub in or out any veggies you want or have on hand.
Stir-fries are great for busy weeknights but a word of caution— only if you’ve done most of the prep work ahead of time or somehow have the luxury of being home all afternoon to prepare dinner. Don’t attempt to start this from scratch unless you plan to eat late or have exceptionally patient kids!
What I like to do is chop up all the veggies and chicken early in the morning or even the day before and then store them separately in little dishes, covered in the fridge (or in little bags, especially if they’re the reusable ones—gotta think of the environment). Then, when it’s time to make dinner, it’s really not much more than whisking up the simple sauce and stir-frying everything together.
And making a pot of rice, which for me, is always the hidden perk about a stir-fry. I’m usually pretty careful about how many carbs I eat with meals since I’m always baking something or other but you just need to soak up all that lovely stir-fry sauce with a mound of rice! At least, that’s my excuse!
So get out that knife and start chopping ‘cause tonight it’s a homemade, feel-good, “happy meal”— the take-in stir-fry way!
Chicken Stir-Fry with Mixed Veggies and Peanuts
Makes 4 generous servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes (plus time to prep food)
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized cubes
1 tablespoon Asian chile sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce, divided
1/4 cup vegetable oil, divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
3 celery stalks, ends cut off, sliced down the middle lengthwise and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 large shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
1/2 pound snow pea pods, ends trimmed
Rice for serving (optional but not really)
1. Whisk the chile sauce, cornstarch, rice wine, and 2 tablespoons of the soy sauce together in a medium bowl and add the chicken. Toss well to coat and set aside. Make sure all of your other ingredients are prepped and ready to go, near the stove. Put on a pot of rice to cook.
2. Place a large heavy-weight skillet with high sides over a burner and heat on high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil and when it is very hot and ripply looking, add the garlic and scallions and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly—you don’t want the garlic to burn. Add the celery, carrots, shallots, sugar and peanuts and cook, stirring often, for about 4-5 minutes, until the veggies are crisp-tender (if you don’t use carrots and use a softer veggie, this may go more quickly). Transfer the mixture to a plate and set aside.
3. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the skillet and let it get very hot. Add the chicken with the sauce to the pan, spreading it into a single layer. Let cook for a couple of minutes, before stirring—then cook for at least another 5 minutes, stirring often, until chicken is browned and almost totally cooked through. Add the snow peas and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until they are bright green.
4. Add back in the veggie mixture, the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and a few tablespoons of water. Use a wooden spoon to stir everything together and to scrape up any browned bits that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. If it seems a bit dry, add a couple more tablespoons of water and stir so that there is more sauce. Serve immediately as is or over a bed of rice.
Note: Recipe adapted from Mastering My Mistakes in the Kitchen by Dana Cowin. I tinkered a lot with this one, subbing in and out ingredients and changing proportions. Make it your own.