Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tried and True and Tweeked a Bit: Chicken Fried Rice

Growing up, my family was mainly a meat and potatoes kind of family given that we had strong roots in a Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. We didn't eat much, if any, ethnically diverse meals. No Mexican or Indian or French. A little spaghetti here and there, but you don't have to be Italian to enjoy a big bowl of pasta smothered in sauce and, being married to an Italian now, I know we didn't truly know how to make spaghetti as Italians do. Our meals were very undiverse, with one exception to this rule which was the homemade Chinese stir-fried rice we had as a side, usually to our own version of sausage sandwiches which were completely PA Dutch. A country style sausage butterflied open served on a potato roll accompanied by American cheese, sauteed onions and peppers and ketchup. Talk about a confused meal. But I grew veryattached to it and that meal, as a whole, has become a comfort meal to me no matter how strange it sounds.

As a young teenager, I remember being home from school one summer day and wanting to make myself real food. Wanting something other than sandwiches or mac n cheese from a box or soup from a can or pizza from the freezer. So I started searching through my Mom's recipe box and stumbled upon this recipe. So, to my best recollection, this is the first recipe I really made by myself, with no adults within ear shot. Yet another reason it may have become so near and dear to my heart. Now, I've made this recipe over and over and have had it memorized for years. My Mom even thinks I make it better than her. At some point, I decided that I wanted to make it a main dish and started adding whatever protein I had in my fridge and using up any, and all, veggies that were sitting around. So here it is, a recipe that I adore not only for its flavors but it's versatility! This recipe is TRULY a part of my heart that I share with you! Hope you enjoy it!

Fried Rice Basic Recipe
From the recipe box of MY MOM!

1 c. water
1 1/3 c. Minute® Rice
3 Tbsp. butter or margarine
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 c. chopped onion
1/3 c. water
3 - 4 Tbsp. soy sauce, I prefer La Choy®

Bring 1 c. water to a boil in small saucepan. Stir in rice, remove from heat and cover. Let stand at least 5 min., untouched, until water is absorbed.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a large saute pan. Add eggs and cook until just set. Add onions and continue to saute until desired doneness. Add rice. You may need to add a touch more butter if the pan is very dry.

Mix water and soy sauce (I usually mix it right in the measuring cup) and then pour over the rice making sure to mix well to distribute the soy sauce mixture.

My Additions:
Any protein (I prefer chicken) cut into very small pieces
Any Veggies cut to a small dice or julienned

Start by following the same directions as above with the rice. Instead of going to the eggs next, I first cook all my veggies and protein. I prefer to work in batches and, when making this amount, I use a large pot instead of saute pan because the veggies do really stretch a buck and make the yield huge! I usually start by sauteing mushrooms, adding onions, peppers, julienned carrots and, in this case, asparagus. Literally, whatever is sitting in my fridge. I then move them to a plate or bowl and keep warm. Try to be sensitive to the cooking time of each veggie or the desired doneness you'd like. If you are new to cooking and aren't sure what cooks longer than others, cook each veggie solo and just continue to add to your bowl and keep warm.  I then saute my protein. After the protein is fully cooked and has joined the veggies in the bowl, continue following the recipe. After your eggs are cooked, rice added, and diluted soy sauce distributed throughout, added your bowl mixture back in. This is when I would add peas, if using them, since it literally takes a few minutes for them to heat through. When I was younger, I'd add a few more glugs of soy sauce from the bottle so you may want to keep the soy sauce bottle close to the table so you can adjust to your own taste.