Thursday, 18 October 2012

Honey and Cashew Nut Chicken

I love it when I hardly have to buy anything to make dinner... and I'm not talking about the kind of "cheese on toast" dinner (although that is a totally acceptable meal in my books... add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and it's positively fine dining!). This is one of those meals.

We usually have a few different types of meat in the freezer at all times- if I see some on offer I'll quite often buy it there and then (if we have money left in that week's food budget), divide it into individual portions, label it and freeze it. It makes buying meat much more affordable, and means we at least have the starting point of a meal always on hand! We have spring onions growing in our garden, rice, honey, soy sauce and sesame oil in the cupboard and had red chillies left over from another meal (I'd love to grow our own, but sadly out attempts have failed miserably!).

Oh, and another Ellwood kitchen secret I need to let you in to. You may have noticed we use a fair amount of garlic and ginger in our cooking? Well if I bought them fresh for every meal I would rarely be out of the supermarket, and the cost would quickly add up. Instead, we keep jars of minced ginger and minced garlic in our fridge at all times. The initial outlay is obviously a little more than buying one fresh bulb or root, but they go so much further! So so so much further. It also means you don't have to go buy it specifically for each meal, as it's always on hand. Now I'll be honest, we do normally buy shop bought jars (if you go to the 'world foods' section of the supermarket the jars there are so much cheaper, and I prefer the products too), but just last night one of my favourite bloggers, Kalyn from Kalyn's Kitchen, posted about how to prep your own minced or pureed garlic and freeze it- I'll be doing that from now on! You can read her post here.

If you've read on and taken a peak at the ingredients list, you'll have worked out that to make this meal we only had to buy the mushrooms (which don't have to be Shitake, chestnut mushrooms would work well, but I just love the flavour and texture) and cashew nuts. Not bad, don't you think?!

I also really love this dish, so I'm glad it's one I can throw together on a whim! The honey gives a yummy sweetness (without being gloopy as some sweet Asian dishes can be), the soy gives depth (and obviously saltiness), the cashews and spring onions give a great crunch and the shitake mushrooms have the nicest woody flavour. Mix all that with the vibrant ginger, chili and garlic and you've got yourself a winner in my book! (dying to say "winner, winner, chicken dinner" but I'll restrain myself. Oops.)

Honey and Cashew Nut Chicken
Serves 4

300g chicken thighs, skinless and boneless, cut into 1" cubes
100g raw cashew nuts
125g Shitake mushrooms, roughly chopped
4 spring onions, cut into 1" chunks
4 tblspns honey
4 tblspns soy sauce
4 tblspns sesame oil (and 1 extra tblspn set aside)
2 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
2 tspns minced ginger
1 tspn minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

1) In a large bowl, mix the chicken with the honey, soy sauce and sesame oil. Set aside and leave to marinade for about 10 minutes.

2) In a dry pan over a medium heat, lightly toast the cashew nuts until golden. Set aside.

3) Over a medium-heat, pour the chicken with all the marinade into a wok (or high sided frying pan) and cook for a few minutes until just cooked through (to check, remove the biggest piece and cut it in half). Remove from the pan and set aside.

4) Heat the tablespoon of sesame oil you set aside earlier, then add the mushrooms for one minute, tossing frequently.

5) Now add the chillies, ginger, garlic and spring onions and stir fry everything for a further two minutes until the onions are just starting to soften and mushrooms are cooked.

6) Add the chicken back into the pan as well as the cashew nuts. Mix everything for one minute until thoroughly combined and heated through.

Serve with steamed rice and prawn crackers.