Chicken and broccoli is a Chinese takeout dish inspired by Beef and Broccoli. It is really easy to make at home even for a weeknight meal. Serve it with rice.
Chicken and Broccoli is the chicken version of Beef and Broccoli. Beef and Broccoli is an Americainized version of a Chinese dish.
This chicken and broccoli is very easy to make. In fact, it is so simple, you can make it as a weeknight dinner if you want to.
WHY STEAM THE BROCCOLI
Many recipes before beef and broccoli call for blanching the broccoli. However, this can cause the broccoli hold too much water and then water down the sauce.
I think that steaming the broccoli does pretty much the same thing blanching does without getting it too wet and leaves the sauce thick.
CAN I USE FROZEN BROCCOLI?
Yes. Frozen broccoli is fine to use. Just make sure it’s not too wet from defrosting when you use it or you will have similar problems to blanching.
WHAT IS A SLURRY?
A slurry is defined as “a semiliquid mixture, typically of fine particles of manure, cement, or coal suspended in water.”
A cornstarch slurry is a mixture of a cold liquid with cornstarch. If you use hot liquid, the cornstarch will gelatinize with the liquid ruining it.
A cornstarch is used as a thickening agent, and particularly common in Asian sauces. However, if you put it in as a powder it will clump up so it must be turned into a slurry first.
WHY USE IT WITH THE CHICKEN?
This technique is known as velveting. The name comes from the fact that meats marinated with cornstarch have a velvety smooth texture on the outside. The velveting also helps the meat retain moisture.
IS KOSHER CHICKEN BETTER?
Yes and no.
It is not necessarily healthier as far as bacteria is concerned, since bacteria can only safely be killed with heat.
What is better is the quality of the chicken.
The salting process used to remove blood, as part of the koshering process, is believed to provide better quality meat.
It creates a sort of quick dry brine.
Also, kosher animals are kept in better conditions than nonkosher animals, due to strict kosher health requirements of the animals. They are also killed in arguably more humane conditions.
While I’ve only eaten kosher meat (so I cannot compare), I’ve been told by non-Jews who do not keep kosher that they’ve noticed that kosher chicken is of superior quality to cook with.
SHOULD YOU WASH CHICKEN?
According to the USDA, you should not wash chicken or meat because washing it spreads bacteria throughout the kitchen.
Water can splash bacteria up to 3 feet surrounding your sink, including onto counter tops, other food, towels and you (i.e. cross contamination).
A study done by Drexel University shows that it is best to move meat and poultry directly from package to pan. The heat from cooking will kill any bacteria that may be present.
One exception would be if there are bone fragments or residue from giblets, as in a roasting chicken. In that case, feel free to rinse if you like. However, make sure you wipe down your sink afterwards.
HOW CAN I CLEAN MY CHICKEN WITHOUT WASHING IT?
If you want to clean your chicken without washing it, wipe it down with a wet paper towel. This will remove anything other than bacteria.
Just make sure the paper towel doesn’t touch anything else and to toss the paper towel right away.
HOW TO DEFROST CHICKEN
IN THE FRIDGE
This method is the most highly recommended. Chicken typically takes a full day to thaw. Once thawed, the poultry can remain in the refrigerator for a day or two before cooking.
IN COLD WATER
This should take two to three hours. Submerge your sealed chicken in a pot or bowl full of cold water. Change out the water every 30 minutes or so.
Do not use warm or hot water. It is unhealthy to do so, can start cooking your chicken, and doesn’t do so evenly.
COOK IT FROZEN
According to the USDA, you can cook frozen chicken. It will take 50% longer to cook, but it’s an option. You should also cook it on a roasting rack or over vegetables, so the heat can circulate around the chicken.
IS IT SAFE TO REFREEZE RAW CHICKEN
If you have extra raw chicken that you didn’t use but want to refreeze, you can, as long as it was thawed in the fridge.
According to the USDA,“food thawed in the refrigerator is safe to refreeze without cooking.” However, you do lose quality when refreezing previously defrosted meat.
Every time you defrost meat, it loses moisture through thawing, which also leads to a loss in flavor. To compensate for this, marinate the meat to add more flavor and juice.”
The USDA also says not to “refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.”
SHOULD YOU BRINE?
No. Brining actually doesn’t do anything to help poultry. In fact, it makes it soggy rather than juicy, with watered down flavor.
Aromatic brines and stock don’t help with flavor either. This is because the salt pulls water molecules in, leaving most of the flavor behind.
A dry brine loosens up muscle fibers, allowing them to retain more moisture as without adding any excess liquid.
Initially, the salt draws moisture out, then it dissolves in this liquid, creating a concentrated brine, which eventually gets reabsorbed. This leads to more intensely flavored results.
An added benefit is that it also requires less space and mess than a water brine. Not to mention the fact that it allows for crispier skin.
CAN YOU DRY BRINE KOSHER POULTRY AND MEAT?
Yes. Food experts are often under the impression that kosher meat and poultry cannot be brined and dry brined.
This is because of the koshering process which involves salting the meat to remove the blood. However, the process is not nearly as long as the dry brining process, and unlike a dry brine, the poultry is soaked to remove the salt.
So, since the process is quite different than a dry brine, it is fine and even recommended to dry brine kosher poultry and meat.
HOW TO STORE CHICKEN
Place cooled chicken in an airtight container or wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil or plastic wrap. Store in the fridge for up to 4 days.
HOW TO FREEZE CHICKEN
Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Place cooled chicken in an airtight container or resealable freezer bag.
Freeze for up to 4 months. After that, it is safe to eat. However, the quality begins to degrade.