lunchbox life: chicken fried brown rice

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I am so excited to share this modified Skinnytaste recipe with you! Gina’s debut cookbook is great, and if you’re in Macon, you can buy it at Robinson Home on First Street.

Who doesn’t like fried rice? This dish seems to be one of those crowd pleasers, much like pizza or fried chicken, that you have to be the pickiest of eaters to not enjoy. I mostly avoid fried rice at restaurants because of its high oil content, but this recipe allows you to control the oil and protein while replacing the traditional white rice with the more nutrient-dense brown rice. The brown rice is full of fiber and will keep you fuller longer throughout the day. I added and subtracted a few things from Gina’s recipe, including the addition of chicken for protein and mushrooms for more nutrition and volume. Mushrooms are a great addition to a dish if you’re wanting a larger portion but aren’t wanting too many extra calories. Because mushrooms soak up flavor quickly, they do not distract the eater from the other flavors in the dish. They do, however, bump up the volume of each serving, and who doesn’t want a bigger bowl of fried rice?

I used boneless skinless chicken thighs here, and I highly suggest you use thighs instead of breasts. Many Asian restaurants use chicken thighs because of the slightly higher fat content. Another plus? They’re much cheaper than chicken breasts. The use of dark meat, sesame oil, and fish sauce in this dish will take your make-your-own-take-out from fake to almost authentic.

Yes, you are reading those ingredients correctly: use frozen peas and carrots! Isn’t that what you see the take out restaurants do?

Chicken Fried Brown Rice

3 cups of cooked brown rice (about 1.5 cups dry)*

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small bite-size pieces

1 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1 egg and 3 egg whites

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 small onion, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

4 green onions, green and white parts separated

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1 cup sliced white mushrooms

1 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed

3 Tbsp. soy sauce

1.5 tsp. fish sauce

*Be sure to prepare the brown rice before you do anything else–it can take a while! I cook my brown rice in a rice cooker so I don’t have to think about burning it.

Heat a wok or a large, rounded non-stick pan over high heat. Add the canola oil, then when the oil gets hot, add the chicken, garlic powder, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. The chicken should only take a few minutes to cook, but be sure to not overcook it. Test a large piece to make sure it is done throughout, then remove the chicken from the pan and place on a plate, but reserve the remaining oil in the wok. Next, whisk together the egg and egg whites and add to the hot oil in the pan, still keeping the high heat. Diligently scramble the eggs making sure to not overcook them, then remove them from the pan and set aside on a separate plate.

Keep the pan over high heat and add the sesame oil. Next, add the diced onions, celery, and white parts of the green onions. Cook for about two minutes, then add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Next, add the mushrooms and peas and carrots and cook for another three minutes. While the veggies are cooking, combine the soy sauce and fish sauce in a small dish and stir; set aside. Add the rice to the pan, stir to combine with vegetables, then pack the rice mixture down in the pan taking care to smooth the top and cook for two minutes. Stir the rice mixure up, smooth out the top, and cook for another two minutes. Next add the chicken, sauce, and scrambled eggs, stir to combine, smooth out the top, and cook for another two minutes. Add the green parts of the green onions, turn off the heat, stir to combine, and serve.

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