Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Heavy Cream Became Healthy

About 8 years ago, not long after my husband and I started dating, I wanted to make something fancy for dinner. I found a recipe for fancy chicken with lots of heavy cream to be served over rice with copious amounts of butter. SOOOOO not good for us. It was delicious, so obviously I made it a ton. 

About a year ago, we decided to try to eat a little healthier. And I loved that chicken recipe, but I really wanted to make it healthy. So I did, kind of... Here is Spicy Orange Chicken and Salad (for 2)

 - 1 chicken breast (deboned)
 - Triple Sec or Grand Marnier (I definitely prefer the triple sec)
 - 2 Oranges
 - 1 Avocado
 - Baby Spinach
 - Sunflower seeds
 - Olive Oil
 - Stone Ground Mustard
 - Red Pepper Chili Flakes
 - Cooking oil (I use peanut oil; I am in Alabama, but corn, canola, or vegetable is fine)
 - Kosher salt
 - Fresh ground Black Pepper

 - Wash and dry baby spinach. Set aside

 - Peel and cut the oranges into supremes over a small plastic or glass or ceramic bowl to catch all the juice. Place the supremes in a larger, non-reactive bowl. Peel and chop the avocado and place in the bowl with the supremes. Sprinkle with salt and toss to coat the avocados with the orange juice from the supremes. Set this big bowl aside. In the small bowl, you should have about a quarter cup of juice from the oranges if you squeeze the centers after you cut the supremes. Add a sprinkle of salt, a dash of pepper, and about a teaspoon of good brown stone ground mustard. Slowly drizzle in a third to a half cup olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Your salad is just about done.

 - Heat up nonstick skillet over medium high heat with enough cooking oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat it up until the oil shimmers and just starts to waft. Slice your chicken breast into half inch strips and cut the longer ones in half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in a large zip top bag. Add about a quarter of a cup of cornstarch and toss to coat. Remove chicken from the bag and shake off the excess cornstarch and then place in the hot skillet.  Fry each side until they are a light golden brown. It's ok if the chicken isn't cooked through, yet, you will cook it again. I currently don't have a pan big enough to fry all the chicken strips without overcrowding, so I do this is two or three batches. Once all the chicken is browned, put it all on a plate and pour the hot oil and cornstarch bits out of the pan. I have a metal sink, so I just pour it in there with the hot water running and then I wash it down the drain with some dish soap. Don't wash the pan; you want it to stay hot. Put the pan back on the burner and allow it to heat back up for 30 seconds. Put all the chicken back in the pan and allow to cook for another minute or so. Now add a half cup to a cup of the Triple Sec. You want it to cover the chicken pieces, but not turn the whole thing into a soup. Also add the red pepper flakes, an eighth to a quarter teaspoon. Turn the heat up; you really want this thing to bubble. Stir everything frequently, and rotate the chicken every few stirs.

- While your sauce is thickening, it is time to start plating. Place a couple handfuls of the baby spinach on each plate. Be generous; there are almost no calories in spinach. This is your filler ingredient, as in fill you up. Spoon half of the orange and avocado mixture onto each plate of spinach; don't just pile it in the center, be sure to spread it out over the whole mound. Whisk the vinaigrette again to make sure it's still emulsified. Pour this over the spinach and orange and avocados. Your chicken should be cooked now. If you aren't sure, you can cut the thickest piece in half. Arrange the chicken on top of the salads, half on each. Pour the sauce over the chicken, dividing evenly between the two plates. Sprinkle with sunflower seeds and serve. Oh so very good.

It's still a bit of an indulgence, especially with the triple sec and the cornstarch. You could just use leftover chicken from the night before, and put that on before you dress the salad. Sometimes though, I really like a bit of sauce and some lightly fried chicken. All in all, the meal is actually pretty healthy, and spinach and orange go so very well together. Hope you enjoy!