Did you know March is National Frozen Food Month?
I know that most of us, given the choice, would choose fresh over frozen. I know I do, but there are exceptions. More often than not I buy already frozen poultry and seafood (gasp!) because it’s convenient to have on hand, I can buy in bulk, and it’s cheaper. And unless I know there’s going to be a huge quality difference, no harm done, right?
So when Smart & Final asked for recipes using food from their freezer section, I was happy to participate. I’d never really shopped at Smart & Final for food before, and was quite pleased with the selection and prices. I got some steals on frozen chicken, tilapia, and salmon, plus some veggie mixes and brown rice. My goal was to create a recipe for when using frozen food was all you had time for - a quick weeknight dish; but at the same time hopefully disproving the myth that frozen food is all just pre-made convenience items and dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.
Here’s what I came up with:
Quick Chicken Stir-Fry with Spicy Sauce
1 package frozen vegetable mix (broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas and water chestnuts)
1 package frozen whole grain brown rice
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins, thawed and sliced
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon sambal oelek
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar (or more to taste)
For the sauce, heat sesame oil in a small saucepan and quickly sauté the garlic, ginger and sambal oelek. Add the soy sauce, chicken broth, brown sugar and lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 10 minutes for the flavors to combine. In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch into the white wine, then stir mixture into sauce. Let simmer until the sauce thickens a bit, then add rice wine vinegar. (Depending on the saltiness of the soy sauce and chicken broth and how much the sauce has reduced, you may need to add more vinegar to offset the saltiness.) Remove from heat and reserve.
Microwave rice as directed and reserve.
Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a wok and add chicken. Cook until chicken is almost done, then add vegetable mix and season with pepper. Stir-fry until vegetables and chicken are cooked through. Add desired amount of sauce to taste, heat through, and serve over rice.
This recipe was perfect for what we needed: a quick dinner after a busy day. The sauce takes only a few extra minutes to turn a standard (dare I say boring?) stir-fry into something really special. Spicy and flavorful, the sauce gives the vegetables and chicken that extra boost they need. And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the frozen brown rice. It was nutty and chewy and just right for this dish, and best of all, fast and easy.
I was glad to have experimented with a (mostly) all frozen food meal, and was very happy with the result. Andy has already requested that this dish be on the menu again soon, so it must have been good, right?
(Collective Bias compensated me for my time, but all opinions are my own.)
But wait…there’s more! The giveaway!
This weekend, March 26-27, is the HSN Cooks Spring Weekend Event presented by Bon Appétit. Check it out here. They will be featuring celebrity chefs, food, kitchenware, and much more.
HSN has kindly provided me with a $10 gift card (good for anything on their site, expires 4/30/11) to pass on to one of my readers. To enter the giveaway, leave me a comment. Follow me if you like what you see around here…I won’t force you. I’ll pick a winner randomly on Saturday, 4/2/11, so enter by midnight PST, Friday 4/1/11. Happy shopping!