Pardon me for being a food snob, but I feel that if Chef Lorena Garcia is going to compete on Top Chef Masters, she should NOT have a line of menu items at Taco Bell. The words “Top Chef Masters” and “Taco Bell” just don’t fit together. Taco Bell is about dehydrated not-quite food that gives you food poisoning (I can personally and painfully attest to this) and, as of the last episode at least, Garcia didn’t use fake soy and oat binders and fillers and rehydrate them to make a winning meal. Guess she only does that for Taco Bell.
While she might have sold out and be a shill for YUM! Brands (if you have to YELL it and include an exclamation point, odds are it’s NOT YUMMY!), we were interested in her take on fried rice with a twist. So we used *real* food to make her chicken fried rice with orange guava sauce (original recipe here). Here’s how we made it home cook-friendly.
Recipe serves two very generously.
Gather your ingredients.
For the rice:
1 chicken breast
1 egg (optional)
1 cup jasmine rice
1/4 cup shiitake mushrooms
2 TB garlic, minced
1/4 cup red peppers, diced
1/4 cup yellow (or green) peppers, diced
1/4 cup asparagus, chopped into large pieces
2 TB dried cranberries, chopped
Cilantro for garnish
For the sauce:
1/8 cup scallions, chopped
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/8 cup orange juice (from the orange in the rice ingredients)
1/8 cup guava juice (can be found in the juice aisles of most grocery stores)
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or finely grated)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
Using rice cooker or stove top, cook jasmine rice.
If your chicken has skin and bones, remove them so you’ve got a skinless, boneless chicken breast. Tip: Skin+bones=very inexpensive organic chicken breast.
Using a fine grater, grate orange and lime zest over the chicken and pat into both sides. Season with salt.
Using a wok pan or a large saute pan with deep sides, add a bit of oil and scramble your egg (if using). Remove egg, add a bit more oil. Let the oil get hot and saute the chicken breast until cooked through. Remove and let cool. When chicken has cooled, chop into bite-sized pieces.
Combine all ingredients for the sauce and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
Chop mushrooms, asparagus, peppers and dried cranberries. Blanch asparagus in boiling water for about 2 minutes. Drain.
With all your ingredients prepped, you’re ready to rock. Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in the wok/pan and add veggies. Saute until crisp tender and just starting to brown.
Add chicken and saute for 1 minute. Add cooked rice and mix thoroughly. Let saute for about 4 minutes.
Mix in scrambled egg, if you’re using it. Add sauce and mix thoroughly. Let heat through for about 2 minutes, mixing the entire time.
Garnish with chopped cilantro. Season with salt to taste.
With about 20 minutes of prep and five minutes of cooking, you’ve got dinner.
Despite my early reservations about the cranberries and guava being too sweet and Lorena Garcia selling out, this was really, really good. Lots of color and fresh vegetables, nice bite from the garlic and ginger, a little bit of funk from the mushrooms and just the all around tastiness that comes with a good pile of fried rice. A little sweet, a little savory, a little crisp, a little sticky — hits all the right notes.
Will we make this again? Yes. In fact we already have plans to make it again because we’ve got guava juice to use up (and because it’s that good)!
Soundtrack: K’s tribute to MTV’s 120 Minutes.
Are you keeping up with this season’s Top Chef Masters? Who’s team are you on?