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Chicken Fried Rice with Peanut Sauce

Fried rice takes a little planning ahead (unless you always have leftover cooked rice around), but once you have cooked, cooled rice, it comes together fairly quickly and makes a nice one-dish meal.  If you have some cooked chicken, pork, or beef leftover, it goes even faster. 

We are still working through this year's root vegetable jaw dropped open and I made a high pitched noise of disbelief when my husband brought these carrots and parsnips in a few weeks ago during a mucky thaw.  And as this is just a fraction of the carrots taking up precious real estate in my fridge these days, I've been working them into our meals whenever possible.  

I don't remember how or why I came to pair this peanut sauce with fried rice.  It comes from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, and she calls it satay dipping sauce and pairs it with a grilled lemon chicken.  The only way it resembles the Thai peanut satay sauces I'm familiar with is the underlying flavor of peanut butter--with ketchup and without the fish sauce or curry paste, it's really more fusion than authentic.  But, it is tasty with fried rice and adds a nice mix of flavors and a little bit of heat, so I keep making it. 

Chicken Fried Rice

6 c. cooked and cooled Jasmine rice (2 c. uncooked)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2" pieces*
1 T. soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. rice wine
3 T. cornstarch

2 eggs, beaten lightly
1 small onion, diced OR 3 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
about 3-4 cups mixed vegetables, diced small (I like to use carrots, frozen sweet peas, and broccoli)
pinch of salt
soy sauce
canola or peanut oil

1. Marinate the chicken in soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice wine for 30 minutes.  Toss with cornstarch.  Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a wok over high heat and cook the chicken pieces.  Set aside.
2. Heat more oil if necessary, and stir-fry the onions, garlic, and other vegetables until just tender.  Season with pinch of salt. (Hard vegetables like carrots and broccoli will need more time than peas, so I usually add a tiny bit water to the wok, cover, and let them steam for a few minutes before adding my peas and finishing the stir-frying process.)
3. When the vegetables are cooked, add the eggs, stirring constantly to scramble them.    
4. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil, and working quickly, add the cold rice and chicken to the wok.  Stir and toss together with soy sauce to taste (add a tablespoon or so at a time).
5. Serve with peanut sauce if desired.

*Or skip this marinading and cooking step by substituting cooked beef, pork, or chicken cut into small pieces.

Peanut Sauce (adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

1 T. canola or peanut oil
1 T. dark sesame oil
2/3 c. onion, diced small
1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (or more, if you want this to be spicy)
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
2 T. soy sauce
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
1/4 c. ketchup
2 T. rice wine
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice

Cook the oil, sesame oil, onion, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a small, heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat until the onion is transparent. Whisk in the vinegar, brown sugar, soy sauce, peanut butter, ketchup, rice wine, and lime juice; cook for 1 more minute.


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