What’s for lunch leftovers? Pineapple, Chicken and Ginger Stir-Fry

I sort of fell off the wagon this weekend — no cooking Friday, picked at leftovers Saturday, and tonight my old roommate CPO Sharkey Selik returned home from training at Fort Dix, N.J., which we decided warranted a dinner with friends in a restaurant.

But I was already thinking about what I would have for lunch tomorrow — and the fact that CPOS will be home for two weeks, looking for stuff to eat. So before we even left for Fez (he picked!) I was already slicing chicken breasts and halving cherry tomatoes — and trying out my new garlic press. (I am not exactly thrilled with it, but I am not sure if that is because I eschewed the $16 Oxo Soft Grips version for the $3 cheap one, and I am paying the price for my penury.)

And when we returned home, I promptly began tonight’s dish, which comes courtesy of Donna Hay magazine. I picked up a pineapple on a whim the last time I was at Costco, which led to a “What will I do with an entire pineapple?” moment, and voila, she just happened to have this recipe in the last issue I picked up.

(Unfortunately, our Donna apparently does not archive her recipes particularly comprehensively, since I could not find this one on her website.)  The full recipe is after the jump.

The recipe: Heat 2 Tbsp. peanut oil in a large frying pan or wok over high heat. Add three 200g chicken breast fillets (which have been trimmed and sliced) and cook for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Remove from the pan and keep warm. Add 500g pineapple (peeled and chopped), 2 cloves garlic (crushed), 30g ginger (peeled and thinly sliced), 250g punnet cherry tomatoes (halved), 3 green onions (trimmed and chopped), 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce and 1/4 cup chicken stock to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes or until sticky. Return chicken to the pan and toss to combine. Top with cilantro leaves and serve with steamed rice. Serves 4.

Cost of ingredients: $17.75. Deceptive pricing alert: This does not include the cost of the chicken, which I had in the freezer, but is slightly elevated because I had to buy a bottle of peanut oil ($6) and a full package of rice, because we were out.

Substitutions: Granulated sugar instead of brown sugar, because after this dish I threw away the rest of the rock-hard brown stuff.

As easy as they said? Yes and no. I mean, the process was easy, but this was the most awful mess ever. The chicken in the peanut oil spattered so much that the stove looked like a Pollock painting in oil on stainless steel. A lot of cleanup was involved (grumble, grumble). Other quibbles: The instructions say it should only be 3-4 minutes before the sauce becomes sticky, but adding so much liquid at once — even into a gas-flame-on-high pan — meant it took much longer than that. In the meantime, the tomatoes collapsed from the heat and manipulation.

How’d THAT go over? Here’s where my bad planning comes into play: Rice doesn’t reheat particularly well. So for maximum experience, I will actually have to cook the rice tomorrow at work, then add the sauce atop. A little more burden than it might be worth. Also, my “sliced” chicken and “chopped” pineapple turned out to be more like “chunked,” which might not make for easy fork-to-mouth transfer. And I even deliberately halved the chicken strips once more than I originally was going to, for that very reason.

Would I make it again? Let’s check in tomorrow and see. For now, probably not. And it’s not just because trying to convert things from grams to ounces or cups made my head hurt. (And just to really mess you up, they really did list the “cups” measurement for chicken stock first, followed by ml. The Australians just want to mess with our heads.)

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