Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Jun 23rd

The end of the title should be “in 20 minutes”. Who doesn’t love 20 minute, light and healthy chicken dinners? I made this on a Sunday during naptime; my brother-in-law Jimmy listened patiently as I illustrated to him how to zest a lime and avoid the bitter pith (he’s a nice boy for acting like he cares about zesting limes). He then popped out to look at an apartment in town and honestly was gone 20 minutes. When he got back I was on the ground by the back door, photographing the already cooling chicken wraps on the floor in the natural light. After tasting the deliciousness he said, “I can make this!”

That’s high praise for a dish, coming from a 27 year old bachelor. Do you often get in the rut of grilled chicken breasts, salad and brown rice? Healthy, albeit boring as all get out. These wraps are fun to eat and pretty much as healthy as you can get. I often order chicken lettuce wraps on menus when I’m looking for a “light” dinner option but truthfully, if you don’t make it yourself you never know how light a dish actually is. These wraps taste just as good as any restaurant but YOU control the oil, the sugar, and ingredient list.

A few options here to customize to your tastes. Don’t like cilantro? Keep the total amount of herbs in place but use more basil/scallions instead. Want to up (or lose) the spice? Avoid or heavy-hand the Sriracha. Speaking of – if you don’t want to buy a whole bottle of Sriracha for this dish, use cayenne to taste. Won’t be quite the same but it’s the best substitute. Fish sauce might be something you don’t have and you can look for a sub, but it imparts a LOT of great flavor here so it’s worth putting on your grocery list. You’ll find it in the ethnic/international aisle. Have fun!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Serves 4

Zest and juice of 2 limes

3 tbsp. fish sauce

1 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. cornstarch

1 lb. ground chicken breast

1 tbsp. canola or vegetable oil

1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and minced

3 scallions, thinly sliced

2 heaping tbsp. finely chopped cilantro

2 heaping tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil

1 tsp. Sriracha sauce

1 head Bibb or Boston lettuce (about 12 leaves)

1. Whisk lime juice/zest, fish sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl.

2. Empty package of chicken into a mixing bowl and mash with the back of a spoon to break up the strands of meat.

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3. Heat nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add oil – let heat for about 2 minutes.

4. Add chicken and pepper. Cook, continuously breaking up the meat into pieces, until no longer pink.

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5. Add lime juice mixture to pan and cook, stirring frequently, until slightly thickened.

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6. Remove from heat and add scallions and herbs. Stir to combine. Add Sriracha and stir to combine.

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7. Tear off leaves and serve with chicken – spoon chicken into center of leaves and eat like a taco.

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