Monday, June 11, 2007

"Keep It Simple - 30 Minute Meals from Scratch" by Marian Burros - Chicken and sweet peppers with hoisin

Date I made this recipe: June 10, 2007

Keep It Simple – 30 Minute Meals from Scratch by Marian Burros
Published by: William Morrow & Company, Inc.
© 1981
Recipe: Chicken and sweet peppers with hoisin – p. 98

If you’re a faithful reader of The New York Times’ Dining & Wine section like I am, then you’ll be familiar with Marian Burros.

Marian Burros has been a mainstay at the Times for over 20 years but this book was written when she was food editor of The Washington Post. Of the dozen or so cookbooks she’s written, four have a place of honor in my collection: Cooking for Comfort; Keep It Simple; The New Elegant But Easy Cookbook and Come for Cocktails, Stay for Supper (I adore that title!). Two of the books were autographed by Marian when she came to Minneapolis (actually, St. Paul) for book tours several years ago. Naturally, I found Keep It Simple about a week after she was in town. Oh well, Marian, you’ll just have to come back!

As promised, this meal was indeed simple and came in at 30 minutes (prep time included) which is a good thing because it was a hot day when I made it and I didn’t want to spend any more time in the kitchen than necessary. The dish was also tasty although I’m guessing that it is even better the next day when the flavors have had a chance to settle in.

Speaking of flavors, I added the Chinese vermicelli noodles (our local Rainbow grocery store carried them) to the pan so as to mix the toppings and noodles together for maximum flavor and for ease in serving. I also bought chicken tenders rather than full breasts but cut them into smaller pieces before serving. Okay, so maybe that meant that dinner was actually served in 31 minutes; just don’t tell Marian!

Chicken and sweet peppers with hoisin – serves 3
12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons dry sherry or apple juice
1 large onion
1 large clove garlic
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
4 red or green bell peppers
¼ cup water
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
4 or 5 ounces Chinese vermicelli (or regular vermicelli)

Slice chicken on diagonal into thin slices, less then ¼ inch wide. Mix the soy and sherry and marinate the chicken in that mixture. Chop onion coarsely; mince ginger and put garlic through press. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet or wok. Add onion, garlic and ginger and cook over medium heat about 2 minutes, until onion begins to soften. Seed peppers and cut into strips less than ¼ inch wide. Add to skillet and cook about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Push peppers and onions to the side; add chicken, without marinade and cook quickly until chicken loses pink color, about 3 minutes. Add water, remaining marinade, and hoisin. Reduce heat and cook a minute or two, until peppers are crisp-tender.

Note: Instead of following Marian’s instructions on how to cook the noodles, I followed the recipe on the back and let me tell you, they were way, way off! The instructions said to cook the noodles for 3-5 minutes until tender. Uh, no. The noodles were definitely not done in that amount of time. I think I cooked them for about 10 minutes or so.

Marian’s method sounds better to me (would that I would have followed it): Bring 3 quarts hot water to boil. In a heatproof bowl pour water over vermicelli and allow to sit 15 minutes, until noodles are tender. Drain and serve.

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