Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

If you've never had these are missing out! David had been ordering these from a local chain restaurant for a while, and I decided I needed to figure out how to make them myself. It only takes a few ingredients, it's easy, and it's really delicious. The first time I served them, David was delighted, and I don't think he's had lettuce wraps from anyone else since :-).

If watching the carbs, this recipe is perfect for you...because you're eating lean protein, vegetables, no dairy, and no tortillas.

I used the beautiful lettuce and cilantro from our garden. If you need to buy your greens, use a nice green leaf or Boston lettuce. I use a generic light Asian vinaigrette dressing from Kroger for the marinate, you can substitute another type of light dressing.

Let's getting wrapping!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

1 1/2 pounds chicken tenderloins
1 cup light Asian vinaigrette salad dressing
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large red/green bell pepper, thinly sliced
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice vinegar (in the Asian section of the store)
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 head green leaf or 2 heads Boston lettuce
1 bunch fresh cilantro, washed and patted dry
Early in the day or the day before, combing the Asian vinaigrette and chicken in a large, zip top storage bag. Refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

Now the key to stir-frying food is you can't be a slowpoke about it. I am by no means an expert on cooking Asian food, but you need to have all your ingredients close at hand. It's best to get all your ingredients cut up and ready to go. I get everything together and put it on my cutting board.

In a large non-stick skillet heat one tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Drain the marinade from the meat in a colander, and give it a good shake to get as much off as possible. This will help the chicken sear in the pan (instead of stewing because it's too wet).

Add half the chicken to the hot pan and cook on the first side for 2-3 minutes. Don't be tempted to cook it all, it will release too much liquid in the pan and you'll have braised meat instead of a nice sear. The great thing about chicken tenderloins is they take no time at all to cook.

Flip the chicken and cook for another couple of minutes.

Remove to a plate, and cook the remaining chicken.

Now, since the vinaigrette had some sugar in it, there will likely be a lot of dark fond left in the pan. Normally, I love this stuff, it means flavor. But I don't want the veggies to become a unattractive brown color. So I rinse the skillet out with a few rounds of hot water, and get most of the fond off; not all of it, because it will add flavor.
Place the skillet back on over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Toss in the peppers and onions, and let it hang out for a few minutes.

Add the peppers, salt and pepper to taste, and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender. You'll notice I took the previous and following pics with my flash, which I normally don't do, but you can see how the onions and peppers are a nice golden brown from the fond left over from sauteing the chicken.

Add your garlic and ginger the last minute of the cooking time so it doesn't burn on you. The easiest, quickest way to get it really minced fine is to u
se a microplane grater to grate the ginger and garlic. I probably should have included a tutorial on the ginger. Here's one you can check out if you need help (the guy demonstrating is cute and a little goofy looking too :-)

Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, cornstarch, and water in a small bowl.

Stir this very well, and add it to the pan. This will tighten up the cooking liquid, and create a sauce. (If you let this sit a while before you use it, be sure to stir it again, since the cornstarch will settle to the bottom of the bowl.)

All you have to do now is put it all together. On a plate, arrange some lettuce, cilantro, chicken, veggies, and a little sweet chili sauce (if you don't like it, use a condiment of your choice, just be mindful of the calories it may contain).

We like this particular brand of sweet chili sauce.

The kids ate just the chicken, but they loved it. Rebecca had some of the sauteed peppers, because she loves them. I also made a side of corn for them, and they were all happy.

To assemble your wrap, use the lettuce as a base, and pile on a piece of chicken, some of the peppers and onions, a sprig or two of cilantro, and a little bit of chili sauce--caution, it is hot! Wrap it all up and take a bite....mmm!

I hope you "wrap" up dinner with this recipe. It's a little different, a little fun, and very healthy. God bless your table tonight!

No comments: