If I have a single pet peeve in the kitchen, it's food waste. In North America, we throw out a ridiculous amount of food every year. That food could go a long way both to stretching our budget and sparing our resources, so at our house we make a conscious effort to use things up. At least two or three of our meals each week are made from leftovers of previous meals.
It can take some ingenuity to use up all the bits and bobs that find their way into the fridge by the end of the week but, over time, every home cook develops a repertoire of go-to dishes to use as refrigerator Velcro: Dishes that adapt well to the addition of a wide variety of ingredients.
Some of my favourite dishes for using up leftovers are soup, pizza, quiche, casseroles, and stir fries so when a gander in our fridge yielded a number of small bowls of veggies, a jar of homemade chicken stock, and a single,cooked, chicken breast, my fella - who knows me well - said "Stir fry for supper tonight?" And that's just what we made.
To make Clean Out the Fridge Chicken Stir Fry, you'll need:
- 1-1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 1- 1/2 Tablespoons chicken fat, saved from slow cooker roasted chicken pan juices (This adds great flavour but if you don't have it, you can use whatever cooking oil you prefer instead)
- 1 onion, sliced, about 3/4 cup
- 2 to 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced, about 1 Tablespoon
- 1-1/2 inch fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1-1/2 cups sweet red bell pepper, cut in 1/4 inch strips
- 1-1/2 cups carrot slices
- 2 cups cabbage, shredded into 1/4 inch strips
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1-1/2 cups sliced zucchini
- 1 large, cooked chicken breast broken into bite-sized chunks
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 heaping Tablespoon cornstarch (I use organic, certified GMO free)
Begin by heating the toasted sesame oil and chicken fat (or cooking oil) in a large pan or wok. When they are hot enough that they begin to shimmer and ripple, add in the onion and saute it until it's tender and a little translucent.
Add in the garlic and ginger, and stir for about 30 seconds more.
Add in the bell pepper, carrot slices,cabbage, broccoli, and zucchini, stirring to combine the vegetables and aromatics.
Add about 1-1/2 cups of the stock, bring it to a boil, and put the lid on the pan. Cook the veggies until they're brightly coloured and tender crisp, then stir in the chicken.
While the chicken is heating through (this will take just a minute or so), dissolve the cornstarch in the reserved chicken stock and add it to the pan.
Stir again until the stock boils and thickens into a sauce.
Serve your stir fry immediately, while it's still piping hot, over rice or noodles.
If you have leftovers, you can add some more stock and maybe a little soy sauce to make a quick and flavourful soup.
This recipe made a generous meal for the two of us with enough left over for lunch the next day. If you're feeding more than two people, you'll want to increase the quantities.