Everyone needs a few good chicken recipes under their belt. Ones that you can pull out on any given weekday, without much planning or thinking, and know that they will be a hit and a crowd-pleaser, while at the same time knowing that you are feeding your family a healthy and nutritious meal.
My Honey Mustard Chicken recipe is one of these trusty meals (so is this delicious Beef Stir-fry), and this one right here too is one that I tend to fall back on over and over again, and it never fails to deliver. I have made lots of variations of this recipe and tweaked and adjusted it over time, but the original inspiration behind it was my gorgeous friend Norshek, who claims that she can’t cook. Bullshit, I say. Here is solid, delicious proof that she indeed can.
I love everything about chicken. It is versatile, relatively cheap, readily available, cooks quickly and can be made to suit almost every palate. This recipe uses chicken breast, and I know most people tend to dislike that cut, claiming that it is dry and tasteless, but I disagree. Overcooking it is ALWAYS what results in dryness, and this is very easy to remedy; simply don’t!
Chicken breast is extremely fast-cooking, so generally speaking the best way to get tender, juicy meat is to have a really hot pan ready and only cook it for a short few minutes on each side, which seals in the moisture and gives it a lovely golden sear. That is all you need! I think people worry way too much about having undercooked chicken, but trust me when I say a few minutes is really all you need to fully cook boneless chicken pieces properly and safely…and yummily. (Is that a word?).
Also, the fact that chicken breast doesn’t have a ton of flavour is actually what makes it a perfect vehicle for absorbing sauces in dishes like this. Of course, if you really do prefer the darker meat, then by all means; use chicken thigh! You will only need to slightly increase the cooking time, and everything else will remain the same.
I love serving this over steamed jasmine rice, or brown rice if I’m feeling more virtuous. You can also (and I often do) add more vegetables in there, like broccoli or snow peas, for an even heartier and more nourishing meal, but keep in mind that the more ingredients you add in, the greater the chance will be of over-cooking one (or all) of them…so start simple and then build up as you get the feel of it.
There is nothing worse than a stir-fry with soggy, sad pieces of wilted veggies or dry stringy meat (I cannot count the number of times this has happened to me when I got too ambitious with my ingredients). You want crunch and bright, vibrant colours. The trick is in the high heat and short cooking time, so prep all your components first and have them all set near you before you begin, so that it is just a matter of tossing them in at the right time!
All prep aside, this whole dish should take you about 15 minutes from start to finish to put together and you have this delicious, fragrant, juicy chicken in a wonderfully creamy (coconut milk is MAGIC) and aromatic sauce to drench your rice with.
…so, tell me…what are your go-to healthy weeknight dinners? I’d LOVE to hear your ideas!
- • 500g boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
- • 3 red/yellow/orange capsicum (about 350g net), cut into bite-sized pieces
- • ½ bunch fresh basil, roughly torn/chopped (I used Thai basil)
- • 2 cloves garlic, minced
- • 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
- • 2-4 small red chillies, finely chopped (optional)
- • 2-3 tbsp. coconut oil
- FOR THE SAUCE:
- • ¼ cup soy sauce
- • One 270ml can coconut milk
- • ½ cup water
- • 2 tbsp. coconut sugar/brown sugar
- • 1 heaped tsp. cornflour (cornstarch)*
- Chop and prepare all your ingredients before you start cooking and have them near you for easy access.
- Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a jug or a bowl, set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet or wok over high heat for a few minutes until really hot, add the chicken, season with a little salt and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until edges are lightly golden. DO NOT overcook. Also, DO NOT overcrowd the pan; you want the chicken pieces to be a little spaced out and not cramped together or else they will release all their moisture and stew instead of sear, resulting in dry chicken. Cook the chicken in 2 batches if your pan isn’t large enough. Once cooked, remove from pan into a plate and set aside. Turn down the heat to medium.
- Add the garlic, ginger and chilli to the pan, cook for 1 minute until just fragrant.
- Add the capsicum and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes.
- Give the prepared sauce a good stir (the cornflour tends to settle at the bottom) and then add it all to the pan. Return your chicken to the pan and simmer everything for 5 minutes, until sauce thickens.
- Remove from heat, add basil and serve immediately over rice.
• * The cornflour/cornstarch I am referring to is the very fine white powder, NOT the coarse cornmeal similar to polenta. In the US it is called cornstarch, in the UK it is called cornflour.
• Your final dish will probably look slightly darker than the one in my photos, and that is fine! This is because of a mistake I made while shooting this recipe (spilled tons of cornflour into the pot...oops!)