Monday, November 28, 2005

Chicken Van Jane over rice - a bite beyond sweet-and-sour. Created to be served with Asparagus Parmesan.

Our neighbors had a very sad holiday weekend and I wanted to make them some chicken for dinner, but my standard quickie chicken dishes (with tomato and onion, or with oranges) didn't seem quite sufficient for the moment. Bittersweet, sweet-and-sour, vinegar, but homey - that's what came to mind.

From what we had in the fridge, I came up with this. Serving it over brown-and-white rice and with a side of Asparagus Parmesan (created to complement this chicken dish) seemed in keeping with the mood (plus we were almost out of white rice).

It's enough for four big people and two to four smaller people, depending on how hungry they are.

You'll need:
wide, shallow microwave-safe dish (we used a glass 9x13 casserole)

4 large chicken breasts, boneless, or the equivalent in smaller tenderloins
1 cup white rice mixed with 2 cups brown rice (all brown or all white should work fine too)

1/2 to 1 cup wheat germ (preferably toasted)
~1/4 cup hot-and-spicy mustard
1-2 Tsp sweet-and-sour duck sauce
~2 Tsp pickle juice (we used lime-flavored dill pickle juice)
squirt of lime juice
a few sprinkles of shredded basil (garnish)

If using a rice cooker for the rice and the microwave for the chicken and asparagus, start your rice now. Follow your usual rice-cooking procedure.

Cut the chicken into three-bite sized chunks. Spread it out in the baking dish s.t. the chicken is one layer thick. We won't be turning it, so it'll need to cook evenly.

Shake the wheat germ evenly over the cut chicken. Squirt or spread the mustard over this, followed by the duck sauce, pickle juice, and lime juice (order really doesn't matter). GENTLY mix and spread the topping so it covers the chicken but don't get too much of it underneath the chicken.

Cover the baking dish. If using plastic wrap as a cover (not ideal from a health perspective, but it's what we used), poke a few holes.

Microwave on high for five minutes. Carefully pull the wrap back halfway and separate, but DO NOT TURN OVER, the chicken pieces. Re-wrap; do the other half the same way. Re-wrap.

If making Asparagus Parmesan, piggy-back its dish on this dish now (diagonally, so the top one doesn't directly touch the bottom one).

Microwave on high for another five minutes. Re-separate pieces if necessary, as noted above. Again, DO NOT TURN OVER the chicken pieces. We're going for a topping, not a sauce, this time. If making Asparagus Parmesan, remove it now to move the spears around.

Microwave on high for another five minutes. Time to check to see if the thicker pieces are done. Carefully cut one open to see if it's white yet. If so, taste. Do NOT overcook. If making Asparagus Parmesan, remove it now to change out the liquid.

Microwave for up to five additional minutes if needed for the chicken to cook. When you check it, be careful to leave the topping intact.

Once the rice is done, plate it. Serve chicken over rice. Ladle sauce over all. Garnish with a quick sprinkling of shredded basil. Preferably, serve with Asparagus Parmesan on the side. Best served hot.


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