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Hoisin Chicken Wraps

This is a simple and fast weeknight meal. It is a full dinner wrapped in a tortilla. It looks kind of lonely on a plate all by itself, but all of the side dishes are just wrapped up in there with the chicken. And it is so filling that you really don’t need anything else. Without the gory details, I am a tired puppy this month (car wreck…not my fault…teenage driver…kaboom…OK…but yuck). I want easy, but I also want nutritious and good. I want it in 30 minutes and I want easy clean-up. This recipe fits the bill.

The first best thing about this recipe is that I am going to share a recipe that I go back to dozens of times a year and that is Cooks Illustrated’s Foolproof Brown Rice recipe. There is really nothing to it but it yields perfect brown rice every time. And you don’t have to worry about the smell of scorching rice coming from the stove-top. It is from the May/June 2003 issue and I suspect I have used it 100 times since then, if not more. This is the method I use to make my favorite thought-free meal of black beans and rice…which is just this rice, two cans of drained black beans and a can of Ro-Tel mixed together, but I digress.

Preparation:
1½ cups brown rice
2 ⅓  cups boiling water
2 teaspoons butter (optional…I don’t use it)
½ teaspoon salt
1 pound of chicken tenders, cut into ½” inch chunks or 2 breast halves sliced and cut into chunks
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 big clove of garlic, minced
¼ cup Hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
shredded cabbage (about ¼ head)
grated carrots (2 large)
2 to 3 stalks of celery, sliced thinly
scallions (4 or 5)
broccoli (about 1 to ½ cups small florets)
4 large wrap size flour tortillas (I used a spinach and herb variety, thus the green)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In an 8 inch square (or equivalent) oven safe dish, place 1½ cups of brown rice. Add 2-1/3 cups of boiling water (and 2 teaspoons of butter and ½ teaspoon of salt, if you choose to). Stir it together and immediately cover the dish tightly in a double layer of aluminum foil. Bake for one hour. Remove the dish from the oven and fluff the rice with a fork. Cover it with a paper towel for 5 minutes. Then, uncover it and let it stand for an additional 5 minutes. That is it.

Prep your vegetables as follows. Shred the cabbage, slice the scallions, chop the celery, shred the carrots. Separate the broccoli into small florets and place them in a bowl. Cover them in boiling water and let it stand for about 5 minutes or until the broccoli is slightly softened. Drain the water. Put all of the vegetables together in a large bowl and season with 2 Tablespoons of rice vinegar, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Taste it and make sure you have enough vinegar and spices to make it interesting.

To prepare the chicken, take about 10 to 12 chicken tenders or two chicken breasts sliced to about ½” thickness, and slice it into ½” to 1” chunks. Heat a regular skillet (not non-stick) over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and allow it to cook until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Add the chicken and cook it, stirring and turning until it is cooked through. Add ¼ cup Hoisin sauce and 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar and stir until all of the chicken is well coated. Remove the skillet from the heat.

To assemble the wraps, lay out a tortilla and top it with rice and then a scoop of chicken , and then a pile of the vegetables. Wrap up the tortilla like a burrito. Serve with soy sauce. Ta-daaaaaa!

I like this recipe because it reminds me of a little food shop in Austin that I frequented my last year of law school called Rapido or Wrapido, or something like that. Come to think of it, I often felt as though I had been in a car wreck during law school, so it is not shocking that I would gravitate to that variety of comfort food. If I remember correctly, they also threw a handful of feta cheese or something odd like that in with the wrap. I suspect if I employ any more feta this month I will lose my credibility with you as it seems I put it on everything that sits still long enough. Besides, this dish is perfect just the way it is. It is simple and wholesome and filling. I think you could add any number of other vegetables into the slaw, though. Water chestnuts or bean sprouts come to mind. Let me know if you come up with any ideas for additions.

Short-cuts to consider…rotisserie chicken, bagged shredded cabbage and carrots, going out to dinner. Oh, also, did you know that brown rice goes rancid relatively quickly? Consider putting your dry rice in a sealed jar in your refrigerator. It will keep longer that way. And if you haven’t checked your rice lately and you have not used it in a while, give it a whiff before you go to the grocery store…not after. And, you can find Hoisin in the same area of the store where they have the soy sauce and other Asian fare.

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