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April, 2009

Tangerine Chicken Stir Fry

By Dennis Linden

While the competing schedules of today’s busy modern family make it difficult to share a home cooked meal together, it is not impossible with a little planning, and can even be fun.

Cookin with the Kids Image
Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a great way to teach your children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories that will remain in your hearts forever.

Each COOKIN’ with the KIDS feature will offer a simple, healthy and delicious recipe that can be prepared by a child or a group of children working together, under the supervision of an adult. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to decide the division of labor based on age and ability as well as where help will be especially needed. Since some of these recipes are the kids’ contribution to a family meal, many of these articles will include suggested complimenting dishes from Melissa’s recipe archives for the adults
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Here’s a very quick and very tasty one-dish meal that the whole family can prepare together. Although any variety of tangerine can be used to make the dazzling bright and creamy sauce, at this time of the year take advantage of the availability of Ojai Pixie Tangerines. The Ojai Pixie is super sweet, with a unique flavor profile all its own; plus, this tiny fruit is the perfect kid size that will entice even your youngest sous chef to get involved with the peeling and juicing. Hint: buy more Ojai Pixies than needed for this recipe to allow for the mysterious “shrinkage” that will undoubtedly take place as your helpers give in to the temptation of sampling this ingredient during preparation!

Oranges
In fact, the real star of this recipe is the Tangerine Sauce, which gives this dish an almost dessert like creaminess and just the right balance of sweetness to complement the chicken and veggies, along with lots of vitamin C, to boot! It’s such a simple recipe that your little chefs, with adult assistance for the slicing of the tangerines before juicing and low temperature heating, can really take complete ownership (and credit) for the sauce making.

The vibrant color and eye appeal of the tangerine sauce also provides a great opportunity for a lesson plan on plating the meal attractively. While there is certainly no need to get overly ornate in garnishing a plate for the family meal, teaching your kids that a plate of food should look as good as it tastes elevates the meal to a special event rather than just a group feeding and, with a little practice, allows for creativity beyond having to follow recipe directions to the letter. So when something as colorful as the tangerine sauce comes along, have a little fun with it and let your helpers carefully outline each serving with the sauce and then pour a little over the top of each.

Broccoli is included in this recipe to make it a nutritionally balanced one dish meal. However, if you have a child convinced that he or she hates vegetables, especially broccoli, just steam it separately and serve it on the side along with a challenge to your finicky eater to try just a little broccoli slathered in the tangerine sauce; one bite should do the trick. This versatile sauce is also excellent on fish or just a big bowl of veggies.

Tangerine Chicken Stir Fry
Tangerine Chicken Stir Fry
Serves 4-6

Stir-Fry Ingredients:
1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed into 1” pieces
2 teaspoons peanut oil
6 oz. Melissa’s Ojai Pixie Tangerine peel, chopped into 1/4” pieces
2 Tbsp. fresh Ginger root, minced
1 Organic Red Bell Pepper, chopped into 1/4” pieces
1 cup Organic Broccoli, chopped into 1” pieces
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 ½ cups Melissa’s Ojai Pixie Tangerine sauce
6 cups of cooked white or brown rice

Sauce Ingredients:
1 ½ cup Melissa’s Ojai Pixie Tangerine juice (no pulp)
1 Tbsp. Melissa’s Organic Lemon juice
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. butter
½ Tsp. salt

Chicken Stir-Fry Preparation:
Sauté the chicken in oil for 2 minutes or until it is no longer pink on the outside. Stir in tangerine peel, ginger, red bell pepper and broccoli, fry for one minute. Add soy sauce and ginger, simmer 15 minutes. Done! Tangerine Sauce Preparation: Measure one cup of the tangerine juice into small sauce pan. Add lemon juice, butter and salt. Put pan on low heat and melt butter completely, careful not to allow mixture to boil. While main ingredients are heating up, mix remaining half cup of juice with the corn starch, whisk until smooth. When the sauce begins to steam, slowly add corn starch mixture to sauce pan and continue stirring until sauce thickens.

What the kids can do:
1. Hand peel tangerines for stir-fry (save fruit for snacks).
2. Juice a second batch of tangerines for sauce (adult supervision).
3. Measure out butter and salt for sauce.
4. Measure out oil, soy sauce and vinegar for stir-fry.
5. Whisk corn starch into cold juice.
6. Carefully pour sauce around rice and over each serving

What adults should do:
• Based on age and ability of your young staff, do all the chopping, slicing, stir- frying. Supervise the measuring of ingredients and simmering of the sauce!
• Direct the plating and serving of the dish, but let your helpers actually do the pouring of the sauce on the plate and each serving using a small cream pitcher to promote accuracy and avoid spills.

Plating Lesson:
• Place a portion of rice in the center of the plate.
• Ring the rice with the tangerine sauce
• Pile the stir-fry chicken mixture on top of the rice.
• Carefully pour some of the sauce over the chicken. Be prepared for seconds!