Monday, December 7, 2009

Chicken Fried Rice: A Recipe for the Ages

Last week, I experienced one of the dozens of daily events that remind me I’m well into my 30s. It started during a Friday Night Lights marathon on Netflix. If you’ve never seen the show (and most haven’t), know a few things: A) it will make you care about football, B) it will make you care about Texas, and C) everyone is insanely good-looking. Like, these people make Catherine Zeta-Jones look like an old mushroom.

On the show, there’s a character named Tim Riggins who is particularly aesthetically pleasing. He’s cute squared, cubed, and then squared again. (So, cute to the 7th power.) Sadly, he’s supposed to be a junior in high school, making this my problem: at 32-years-old, is it okay for me to find him handsome? Or is it kind of creepy? Is the Coach (a 40-something) more appropriate for my age? Is “handsome” a word that young people use?

In all seriousness, this has been bothering me for several days. I don’t know if it’s mortality thing or what, but I’m adding it to an ever-growing list of Disturbing Things That Signal My Aging/Adulthood. This list also includes:

-I have become very aware of the ways in which my back can and can not twist.

-The Husband-Elect’s inability to put laundry INSIDE the hamper (as opposed to on TOP of the hamper) has usurped human rights in my hierarchy of Things to Care About.

-I refer to major league ballplayers as “kids.” Ex: “That Jeter kid sure is a good shortstop.”

-I buy tissues when I’m not sick.

-Hangovers, while only occasional, don’t last six hours anymore. Minimum, two days.

-The music that was popular when I was in high school (R.E.M., Oasis, Nirvana, etc.) is now played primarily on classic rock radio.

-Interns look like positively fetal to me now.

-I make involuntary noises when I get up off the couch.

-“I’m 32” has replaced “I don’t feel well” and “I have to be at work early tomorrow” as a legitimate excuse for staying in on Thursday nights.

-I plan my dinners days ahead of time.

That last one is antithetical to every meal I ate from ages 17 to 27, but it’s a central principle of this whole food/frugality thing we’ve got going on here. Today’s dish, Chicken Fried Rice, is a good example. It’s a hybrid of three recipes from Simply Recipes, Cookie magazine, and Robert Irvine (of Dinner: Impossible fame) and requires several cups of refrigerated leftover rice. Without this essential planning ahead, you’re left with a blobby, hyper-absorbent pile of mush.

Beyond that, the recipe is tasty and super-quick to throw together. It can be customized to include more vegetables or different proteins, and the soy sauce can be adjusted as well, depending on your salt tolerance. (Mine is very high. I kind of wish I was a deer just for the salt licks.)

Now, I’m off to eat Chicken Fried Rice and contemplate this Tim Riggins thing further. For someone my age, it might take awhile.

P.S. Readers, how do you know you’re getting a little older? Use your newfangled computer technology to discuss in the comment section. (Then, get off mah lawn!)


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Chicken Fried Rice
Makes 3 full meals or 5 side servings.
Adapted from Simply Recipes, Robert Irvine, and Cookie.

8 ounces chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
2 egg whites
1 egg
6 scallions, chopped
3 to 4 cups leftover rice (must NOT be freshly made)
3/4 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed
3 tablespoons soy sauce

1) In a small bowl, combine chicken, 1/2 a teaspoon of sesame oil, and salt and pepper to taste. In another small bowl, beat egg whites and egg together with a little salt and pepper.

2) In a large nonstick skillet, warm 1 teaspoon canola oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 5 or 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.

3) Reduce heat to medium low and warm 1/2 teaspoon canola oil in skillet. Add eggs, swirling them around pan and gently breaking them up with a spoon as they cook. When barely done, set eggs aside with chicken.

4) Jack heat back up to medium-high and add 1 tablespoon canola oil to skillet. Add ½ the scallions and cook 2 or 3 minutes, until slightly soft. Add rice and spread it around as much as possible. Cook 4 or 5 minutes, stirring once or twice, until rice is warmed and a little crispy.

5) Add remaining sesame oil and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce. Stir to coat. Add chicken, eggs, carrots and peas, stir to combine, and heat another 3 or 4 minutes. Remove from heat and top with remaining scallions. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with extra soy sauce on the side.

Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, and Price Per Serving
3 servings (full meal): 446 calories, 12.9 g fat, 3.7 g fiber, $1.18
5 servings (side dish): 268 calories, 7.8 g fat, 2.2 g fiber, $0.71

8 ounces chicken breast: 249 calories, 2.7 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.85
1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil: 60 calories, 6.8 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.09
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper: negligible calories, fat, and fiber, $0.02
1-1/2 tablespoons canola oil: 186 calories, 21 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.11
2 egg whites: 34 calories, 0.1 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.66
1 egg: 74 calories, 5 g fat, 0 g fiber, $0.33
6 scallions, chopped: 48 calories, 0.3 g fat, 3.9 g fiber, $0.44
3 to 4 cups leftover rice (calc for 3.5 cups): 676 calories, 2.9 g fat, 3.5 g fiber, $0.42
3/4 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed: 56 calories, 0 g fat, 3.4 g fiber, $0.33
3 tablespoons soy sauce: 25 calories, 0 g fat, 0.4 g fiber, $0.30
TOTAL: 1339 calories, 38.8 g fat, 11.2 g fiber, $3.55
PER SERVING (TOTAL/3): 446 calories, 12.9 g fat, 3.7 g fiber, $1.18
PER SERVING (TOTAL/5): 268 calories, 7.8 g fat, 2.2 g fiber, $0.71

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