Sunday, June 17, 2012

Chicken with Eggplant

Those of you who have read the blog  before (all 3 of  you) will be saying, aha, BF must have had some event to foist this dish off on, and indeed I did. The event was a lunch for the last day of school. For some  unknown reason, DCPS elected to have the last day be a half day. This is not something we have usually done, but we were happy. I was particularly happy because I am retiring. Ha ha. It may be kind of weird in September when everyone else in the universe is going back to school,  but right now, it feels great.
Chicken with Eggplant is Chinese food of the 50s. Soy sauce, peanut oil, cornstarch, grated ginger, a small, emphasis small, clove of garlic. Why it is a dish native to New Jersey, I know not.  The ethnic food of New Jersey of the 50s was spaghetti and gefilte fish. But, here it is, and I finally made it.
This dish is tasty--tastier if the cook beefed up the spices, and reasonably quick to produce. I knocked it off in an hour and was only 15 minutes late to work on my last day. If anyone said anything (and they didn't) my  witty retort would have been "So fire me!"  The eaters seemed to like it. I actually didn't go back to the library to pick up my pan and utensils. The pan was disposable, the utensils were part of a set of stainless steel cutlery that my husband and I had when we first set up housekeeping. Actually when we first set up housekeeping, the knives, forks, etc came from the college cafeteria.
I remember my husband calling me to come to dinner and saying "Bring your purse. We're going to steal silverware." My  brother actually outdid me in larceny. He stole the beds for his first apartment from the college dorm, dismantling them and lowering them out the window. But anyhow, those serving utensils didn't owe us much, and even if my husband won't like it, we have more knives, forks, serving utensils and general eating equipment than a large division of the Russian Army.  
So, my recommendation is, if you want to make chicken with eggplant, increase the garlic to at least two cloves. Three would probably be better. Also, put in more peppers.  I used jalapenos. These are probably not what the originator of the recipe had in mind, but jalapenos were what was ready to hand in the absence of a specific Chinese pepper. I softpedaled on the peppers, not knowing how my colleagues felt about  hot food.

Chicken with Eggplant

2 medium-size eggplants
boiling water
1/2 pound skinned boneless  breast of chicken
1 tablespoon cornstarch
 2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
2 fresh hot green peppers or to taste or dried red pepper flakes to taste
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 small clove garlic finely minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 c up fresh or canned chicken broth

1. Peel the eggplants and, using a sharp knife, slice them into one-quarter-inch rounds. Slice each round into very thin match-like strips. There should be a bout four cups of thin strips. Pour boiling water over eggplant strips and let stand five minutes. Drain well in a colander.
2. Cut the chicken into thin slices then cut each slice into thin, match-like strips. Place the chicken strips in a mixing vowl and add the cornstarch, soy sauce and sherry.
3.  Split the peppers in half and discard the seeds and stem of each. Cut t he peppers into thin shreds.
4. Heat the oil, add the peppers and cook until they start to color. With a slotted  sproon , remove the peppers and reserve. Add the chicken to the oil and cook, stirring  briskly,  until the flesh turns white. Add the eggplant strips, garlic, ginger, chicken broth and reserved peppers. Cook j ust until the mixture boils ahd is slightly thickened. Makes  6 servings.

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