Lettuce Cups with Stir-Fried Chicken

 

I have been not-so-patiently awaiting the arrival of my June Bon Appétit. Not only did I know that Gwenyth Paltrow, who I think is fabulous, was going to be on the cover, but we have been traveling a lot and I love having uninterrupted plane time to read the magazine from cover to cover. Alas, it had not arrived nearly a week after I knew it was on newstands (I sound obsessed, don't I?) and I broke down and bought it in the Boston airport for our flight back to Denver. I am so glad I did because it still isn't here and I suspect it either was lost or someone who also loves GP "borrowed" it!

I digress. I flagged all of the recipes that I want to try this month (there are many) and was eager to get started this week. The recipe for Lettuce Cups with Stir-Fried Chicken caught my attention because it reminds me of my favorite dish at P.F. Chang's China Bistro - the chicken lettuce wraps. The filling is delicious and you feel healthier eating these than eating other menu items because they are wrapped in lettuce (never mind that they are swimming in some delicious and certainly unhealthy sauce). 





The Bon Appétit recipe was straightforward and easy to make and I had most of the ingredients on hand. Unfortunately, my grocery store did not have butterleaf lettuce and instead of getting the obvious second choice (iceberg) I went for a greener variety. It was fine, but I think iceberg (and its lack of flavor and crispness) would have been a better choice. I wasn't blown away by the flavor of the stir-friend chicken on its own, but when wrapped in lettuce and topped with the Asian sweet chile sauce, these were quite tasty! When I make them again, I'll probably make the chicken stir-fry spicier. Rob and I ate them for dinner rather than as an appetizer and I think they are well-suited for either.

Two suggestions - first, the recipe calls for the chicken to be diced. As you will certainly be able to tell from my photos, I did not dice the chicken into small enough pieces but I'll be sure to do that the next time around. Second, this dish requires that you prepare everything ahead of time for inclusion in the stir fry.  So, dice all of your ingredients and get your sauces ready prior to cooking!

Lettuce Cups with Stir-Fried Chicken
June 2011 Bon Appétit 

8 appetizer servings
active time = 30 minutes 

Ingredients

  • 16 large butter lettuce leaves
  • 1/2 cup Asian sweet chili sauce
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, minced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 medium shiitake mushrooms (about 1 ounce), stemmed, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup unsalted, roasted cashews, chopped

Preparation

Arrange lettuce leaves on a large platter. Pour chili sauce into a small bowl; place on platter with leaves. Mix chicken, scallions, soy sauce, and cornstarch in a medium bowl; marinate 10 minutes at room temperature, stirring occasionally. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add mushrooms; stir-fry 15 seconds. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry 10 seconds. Add chicken mixture and cook, stirring often, until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Spoon chicken mixture into lettuce leaves, dividing equally. Garnish with cashews. Roll leaves around filling and dip into chili sauce.