What to do when you want to make a good dinner that doesn’t require a) going to the store b) buying pizza and c) not breaking the financial or health budget for the week?
Try a Friday Night Stir Fry.
Stir fry is one of my favorite dishes to make. The name is vague because it is variable dish (I love that); it’s easy and budget friendly.
Plus, a stir fry is a great way to start experimenting in the kitchen (if you are a newbie to the kitchen). Stir fry is also a great way to consume vegetables that are one day away from questionable. As Grandma used to tell me, “Waste not, want not.”
Basic stir fry is made of three things: meat, vegetables, spices. I make a side of rice to go with it for a complete, healthy, tasty meal. Some people like to add noodles. You’re the chef. You get to make the decisions. Let’s go!
In a large pot, boil the chicken for approximately 40 minutes. Chicken creates a pleasant meaty aroma when it is close to being done. However, to ensure “doneness,” spear a piece of chicken with a fork and bring it up out of the water.
One of two things should happen. First, there should be no redness around the part of the chicken where the meat hits the bone. If there is, boil it for a few more minutes. The second confirmation of a done chicken is when it comes off the bone as the fork pulls it up out of the boiling water.
Note: It’s important to eat chicken that has been cooked all the way through.
In a medium sized pot, boil 4 cups of water. When the water is boiling, add in two cups of rice and place the lid on. I use the broth from the chicken as the water for the rice. This makes the rice very tasty. Set the timer for 20 minutes.
- Vegetables: whatever is in the refrigerator:
Red onions, yellow onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms, squash, green onions, asparagus, snow peas, peppers (any and every color), broccoli, white sprouts, eggplant, summer squash, water chestnuts.
- Spices: pepper, salt, soy sauce, oyster sauce
- Optional spices: red pepper flakes, white pepper, chili paste
- Oil- 4 Tbs. for a large stir fry (4 people eating), 2 Tbs. for a 1-2 person sized stir fry
While the chicken is boiling, I begin to wash and chop all the vegetables. I pile them separately.
About the time the chicken is done (about 40 minutes), I put on the water to boil for the rice. After boiling the chicken, chop it up and set it aside.
I use a wok or a large, shallow pan over medium heat and put in 4 Tbs. of olive oil. I add in the onions and let them sauté for about 7 minutes.
Next, I add in the rest of the vegetables. The pepper and other spices go in too. I add about ¼ cup of the chicken broth to create a nice broth.
I let the vegetables stir fry for about 15 minutes. The timing can depend on the ratio of pan space to the amount of vegetables. Fewer vegetables in a large pan will heat up quickly while lots of vegetables will take a few extra minutes. The vegetables are close to being done when they begin to fill the kitchen with a very fragrant, rich smell. The onions will have browned and so will the edges of the other vegies.
Spicing stir fry: I keep my spices mild- a bit of soy sauce, teriyaki sauce and pepper. If you want to add a bit of a kick, mix the red pepper flakes into a 1 Tbs. of soy sauce or oyster sauce. Pour on and mix in the spices.
If the stir fry looks too juicy, mix 1 Tbs. of cornstarch in 2 Tbs. of water and mix into the stir fry. This will thicken the broth up slightly. (Don’t worry- it won’t turn to gravy!)
Be like Julia Child when you cook! Spoon out a bit of the stir fry and taste for seasoning.
My rule of thumb is to start mild in the amount of seasonings and then add more as they are needed. It is a lot easier to add in spices than try to dilute too much soy sauce or red pepper flakes.
Other fun options for stir fry: Add nuts or pineapple for a fun topping. Noodles are a fun addition, especially if the kids in the family are big noodle fans.
This is the beauty of the Friday Stir fry: I can add and create the stir fry regardless of what I have. And stir fry turns out good every time.
Melissa AuClair blogs about her experiment in moving from a day job to a lifestyle business at http://www.launchyourcreativelife.com When she isn’t planning her move from a day job to a lifestyle design business -and encouraging women in their pursuit of their dreams- she is baking and dabbling in watercolors(and that gets onto the blog too).