Rachael Ray would like this dish — a 30-minute meal with big bold flavor. I know a lot of food snobs don’t like dear Rachael, but I do. Sure, in her early days, some of her shtick got to me, but it doesn’t faze me now. I’m happy to watch a cooking show that’s about cooking real people food – food that’s not too complicated or expensive. True, her recipes are often laden with fat or sodium, but she never pretended to be a health-conscious cook. She’s a home cook, not a chef. She gets how we work in our kitchens. And seriously, isn’t a garbage (or compost) bowl a simple yet brilliant idea?
Plus we’re birthday buddies, Rachael and I. Tomorrow is the big day, and for me, it’s a really BIG birthday, as in milestone birthday, so I’m feeling a bit mooshy and reflective about, well, everything, including Rachael Ray. Just don’t get me started on Julia Child, please, or I might start babbling hyperactive odes to her, gulping back tears.
I have a really delicious Rachael recipe involving sea scallops coming up in Friday’s post. It’s perfect for a birthday dinner, however, I made it last weekend. I have other plans for tomorrow’s dinner, a taste from my past, courtesy of my parents, that will hopefully arrive as scheduled before 3pm tomorrow.
I adapted this Thai minced chicken recipe (just a tiny bit) from the Serious Eats blog. They adapted it from Linda Carucci’s Cooking School Secrets For Real World Cooks. I suppose you could play around with the vegetables in this dish. I added mushrooms to the original recipe. The rest is pretty straightforward.
If you aren’t familiar with fish sauce, I’ll give you the same word of warning I gave to my honey’s sister when she bought it for the first time to make Thai Style Pineapple Salad. You absolutely want to have fish sauce on hand to add that indescribable deep Thai flavor to a dish, umami. But for the love of Julia, don’t make the mistake of smelling it.
We ate our chicken with rice on the side, but I’ve had a similar dish in Thai restaurants where the minced chicken mixture was wrapped in lettuce leaves. You could do the same by breaking up a head of iceberg lettuce into large sturdy leaves. The cold crunch of the lettuce is a pleasing contrast to the warm spicy chicken.
Thai-Style Ground Chicken with Basil and Chiles
You’ll need a wok or large skillet and a medium bowl.
- 2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil, divided
- Onion, thinly sliced
- Red or orange bell pepper, sliced
- Mushrooms, sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 pound ground chicken
- 1-2 jalapeno or serrano chiles, halved with ribs and seeds removed, cut crosswise
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce plus ½ teaspoon brown sugar (or molasses), or 1 tablespoon Thai black soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- Close to 1 cup of fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
- Ground black pepper
- Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
- 2 cups cooked white rice, for serving
In wok or other large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over high heat until just smoking, then add the onion. Stir-fry for about 1 minute, then add bell pepper and mushrooms and stir-fry for an additional minute or two. Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds, then transfer it all into a bowl.
Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil over high heat until just smoking, then add the chicken all at once. Spread evenly and cook, stirring and breaking apart, until pink is completely gone and chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
Return cooked vegetables to pan and add the chiles. Stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the soy sauce and cook for 15 seconds. Follow with fish sauce and basil leaves and cook until just wilted, then season with pepper. Taste for balance, adding crushed red pepper, soy sauce, fish sauce or more black pepper as needed. Serve immediately with rice.
Original recipe: Thai Style Minced Chicken with Basil and Chiles, Serious Eats