Non-traditional Szechuan Chicken

This is a recipe that has been sitting in my drafts for a while now. I just needed to get the right picture of the dish before I could post it – which requires time and that is something I find myself in scarce supply of lately. There are only two weeks left until Ry and I head back to the midwest for our wedding and there are lots of things that need to be done in that time. Ah, the glories of a DIY wedding. I really can’t complain though because we have the most incredible family and friends who are all contributing to make the three days of wedding celebration come together.

This recipe is the by-product of curiosity and craving, I was hankering for something with a salty sweet spicy taste so I decided to try to create my own szechuan sauce. After doing a little research I got a sense of the standard components of a szechuan sauce and, using what we had on hand, did my best to figure it out. The first try was ok but needed tweaking – some fresh flavor and a more complex hint of umami – so I added more lime, included the chopped green onion and the smoked salt. The second batch was much tastier and over the last 6 weeks I would guess I’ve made this dish 4 times, which is a lot in our kitchen. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Untraditional Szechuan Chicken

1/2 C Soy
1 Tbsp Maple syrup
1 tsp Toasted sesame oil
1″ Fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/4 – 1/2 tsp Smoked salt
1 clove Garlic, minced
1/2 – 1 tsp Sriracha sauce (to taste)
1/2 tsp Lime zest, set lime aside
2 Whole chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 Tbs Olive oil
2 Tbsp Butter

5 medium Carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/2″ rounds
1 1/2 C Couscous
5 C Water

2 Green onions, minced finely

1. Combine the first eight ingredients and mix to fully blend
2. Pour into a large ziploc bag and add the chicken, seal and toss to fully coat with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator for 15-45 minutes
3. While the chicken is marinating, bring the water to a boil in a medium sauce pot then add the carrots
4. Let the carrots boil until a fork can be easily inserted into a carrot round – about 5-7 minutes
5. When the carrots are done remove from the water with a slotted spoon and set aside
6. Carefully measure out 2 3/4 C of the carrot water and pour back into the sauce pot and bring to a boil
7. When the water is boiling add 2 pinches of salt and the couscous, cover and remove from the heat. Let it sit for 5 minutes before uncovering
8. When the chicken is ready heat 2 Tbs in a fry pan. When it is glistening add the chicken strips – reserving any extra marinade – and sear on high heat to give the chicken a nice brown color – 1-2 minutes. Then reduce the heat and cook the chicken until a test of a thicker cut piece shows a very lightly pink center
9. Remove the chicken from the pan and, over low heat, add the butter and remaining marinade and scrape all the super tasty residue off the pan to create a pan sauce
10. Finally, add the carrots to the pan sauce and cook until the sauce is reduced to a thicker consistency
11. Add the sauced carrots to the couscous and stir to combine

Serve the chicken over the couscous with the green onion sprinkled over the top and a squeeze of lime

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