Monday, March 7, 2011

Rainy Laze and Ketchup Craze

Cooking instead of eating out is rarely the lazy woman’s approach to dinner plans. But last night, when the wind was howling and my fridge was full and my dinner companions were geographically undesirable, my kitchen seemed so much more appealing than a restaurant.

The whole thing came together so quickly that my ingredients went from pantry to stove to bowls to bellies, with no time to stop and snap a pic. In fact, there was almost no time to sit down—I had to shepherd one of my dinner companions over to the table to stop her from finishing dinner on her feet. The caramelized chicken was so good and so easy that, after one friend had left and the other was asleep on my couch, I threw together another batch with tofu for lunch today.

Don’t turn your nose up at this ketchup-heavy dish. I’ve always thought Sriracha was the shiz, but for 2011 I'm anticipating a ketchup craze. My condiments shelf has been ketchup-free for years (I’m told this makes me un-American). This week I almost polished off a whole bottle. I throw it on eggs, on veggies, really on anything that gets a quick trip through my frying pan. The ketchup darkens into a deep, delicious sludge that turns simple ingredients into something great.  

I’ll be supersizing my next bottle of Heinz for sure. And while I don’t think I’ll be competing for any Guinness titles, consider me a ketchup convert.

Stir-Fried Chicken (or Tofu) with Ketchup
Slightly modified from the Minimalist
Time: 20 minutes
Serve over rice (I used brown basmati)

1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken, preferably dark meat, in 1/2- to 1-inch chunks, or tofu, cut into slices
1/2 cup flour, more as needed
4 tablespoons neutral oil
2 tsp lite soy sauce
2 tablespoons slivered garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 cups broccoli
1 cup ketchup

  • Toss chicken with flour so that it is lightly dusted. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, and turn heat to high. When oil smokes, add chicken in one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  • When chicken browns on one side, toss it and cook until just about done: smaller pieces will take 5 minutes total, larger pieces about 10. Remove to a plate. Turn off heat and let pan cool for a moment.
  • Microwave broccoli covered on high with a tsp of water for 30 seconds
  • Add remaining oil to pan and turn heat to medium high. Add garlic and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add ketchup and stir; cook until ketchup bubbles, then darkens slightly. Add chicken and broccoli to pan and stir to coat with sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve.
Notes for the Naked:
  • I hate when recipes underestimate cooking time. It took me about 10 minutes to cut the chicken, bringing the total to 30. If you have a sharp knife, this will take you less time. I do not.
  • If you make this with tofu, press the slices into the pan as they fry to make them golden and delicious.
  • I added in broccoli here for a more balanced meal. Green beans would be great too. I found that the broccoli got a little mushy, so don't over-microwave it--just a quick zap to take the edge off


  1. "asleep on the couch" in a food induced coma that only such a delicious meal could have sparked.

  2. Ketchup? Seriously, Sarah? Gross. I am disappointed in you.

  3. tda: I don't judge. (Thank you :)

    Jack: Don't knock it until you've tried it. A friend made this recipe and noted that it tastes like "Chinese food from when you were a kid, but in a good way." You can't turn your nose up at nostalgia.