Sunday, June 20, 2010

Broccoli-Chicken Bowls...

I never used to be a fan of plain, dark meat chicken - thighs and legs? Nope, skip right over to the white meat please. I don't know what exactly it was that turned me off, but I think it came down to the slippery texture and "richer" taste. These past few years, however, that richness is exactly what I'm after. The taste is definitely stronger as well, which is why I've been adding it to breast meat when I'm grinding chicken to use in recipes - the extra fat in the meat also produces a more moist result.

Just as I do with the packs of chicken breasts we talked about earlier, I like to do the same process with thigh meat, though maybe not quite as often. We bought a few pounds from the farmers' market the other day to break down and stock the freezer, but I saved a scant pound's worth to make these Broccoli-Chicken Bowls we had for dinner.

To give the thigh meat a little nudge, we let them sit in a pool of soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch and thin slices of fresh garlic. While the meat rested, we broke down the head of broccoli, making use of the entire piece from the tender florets to the thick stems. You won't want to use the stems as-is because they are covered in a tough peel, but removing that reveals the lovely, light-green edible interior. The stems are quite sturdy and crisp (which makes for excellent broccoli slaw by the way), so you'll want to give them an extra minute or two to become tender when cooking.

As soon as the prep was out of the way, we slid garlic into one of our skillets, lined extra-virgin olive oil, and gave it a few seconds to heat through. Because the broccoli stems needed extra time, we added those first, then after a minute or so, the chopped florets joined the party, along with a splash of water to create a steamy home. Just as the broccoli became crisp tender, we scooped the vibrant pieces out onto a plate and drizzled a bit more fat into the barren skillet.

When the oil began to shimmer, the thigh meat, juices it sat in and the whites of a couple green onions were added. Because the chicken was sliced into thin strips, it didn't take long for the flesh to turn opaque, letting us know the chicken had cooked through. Since the "sauce" is fairly fluid at this point, a touch of cornstarch, dissolved in broth or water, was poured in and brought to a boil. This thickened the liquid enough, allowing it to cling to the vegetables and chicken, rather than run completely off.

We served this mixture over a generous bed of brown basmati rice, cooked using our favorite no-fuss method, and tossed a fresh note on by sprinkling over the remaining mild tops from the green onions. If you're not much of a dark meat fan (how can you resist the call of the dark side?), I'm sure breast meat would work here, but I think you'll lose that va-va-voomness (did I just say that?) the juicier thigh meat holds. Because we're sesame fans, the one thing I might do differently next time is either add toasted sesame oil to the mixture the raw chicken sits in or use a mixture of canola and sesame oils to cook the chicken in.


  1. Goodness, Joe! That looks really good! And so easy! Stealing this to spring on my own family. Hope you're doing well in your new time zone!
    Blessings, Debie

  2. This was so simple and so delicious.