Today is Christmas Eve, but it is also my birthday. Now, don’t feel bad for me. I realize that it’s kind of a crummy day to have a birthday, as it’s pointed out to me EVERY time I try to buy a bottle of wine and have to hand over my ID, but it’s all I know, and I’m OK with it. Really.
One of our family traditions on my birthday revolves around my all time favorite movie. Every year on my birthday, I watch A Christmas Story. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a pretty common family tradition, in honor of my birthday of course, because for the past few years TBS runs the movie for 24 hours straight, starting at 8 pm on Christmas Eve! I really am a lucky girl.
So, if you’ve seen A Christmas Story before, and I pray that you have, you know that at the end of the movie Ralphie and his family don’t end up dining on the turkey that his mother has slaved over for hours, in the kitchen of their cozy, snow-topped, Midwestern home. No, they end up having Peking Duck at a Chinese restaurant.
As an aside, this scene is one of my favorite film moments. Next time you watch it, pay close attention to Ralphie’s mother. Her laugh is so genuine, so hilariously real, it makes me cry laughing every time. She’s not acting, she’s living that moment right along with us. It might be the best movie giggle EVER giggled.
ANYWAY, after the Peking Duck is brought out, a parade of Chinese restaurant employees fills the Parker family’s table with every Chinese dish known to man (or, at least, Midwesterners)…which I’m assuming included FRIED RICE!
See? It came full circle.
My friend Brian gave me his amazing recipe for fried rice a while back, and I’ve been waiting for the right time to share it with you. Today’s the day, People! In honor of my favorite movie, and my favorite birthday tradition, I give you…Chicken Fried Rice.
First things first: The rice. Fried Rice works best with leftover rice, or drier rice. I made the rice for this earlier in the day in my rice cooker.
Don’t have a rice cooker? No sweat. Just make sure the rice is made a little while ahead of time and let the air hit it for a bit.
One thing I will stress about this recipe is, have everything prepped and ready to go before you fire up your stove. Once you start, things move along pretty quickly.
Once I had everything in its place, I started cooking. I heated up some oil in a heavy pan (Cast iron works best, according to Brian!) and added in some boneless, skinless chicken breasts that I’d seasoned well with celery salt and pepper. Once the chicken was just about cooked through, I removed it from the pan.
Into the pan went some butter, and then my celery, carrots, and onions. I cooked them down for a bit, about four minutes, just to soften them up. I also made sure to scrape up some of those browned, flavorful chicken bits from the bottom. As the veggies cooked, I diced up my chicken.
Once the veggies had started to soften, I pushed all of the veggies into one half of the pan, and allowed some of the juices to flow back into the empty half.
Then, I added in my beaten eggs and scrambled them up on the side.
Once the eggs were scrambled, and cooked, I mixed them into the veggies.
Now, it was time to add in my chicken and my rice. I carefully stirred it in, and then waited.
I wanted the rice to crisp up a bit on the bottom, and soak in all of that buttery, flavor-filled goodness. After a couple of minutes, I carefully stirred the mixture with my spatula. (Warning: It can get messy. Be careful!)
After a couple of flipping, and waiting, sessions, I added in a cup of frozen peas and some soy sauce, and carefully folded it into the mixture.
I let the peas and sauce cook in for about five minutes, and the fried rice was done!
Thanks, Brian!! It was delicious, and a hit with the entire family. Just writing about it has made me crave a big bowl of it again.
It’s a good thing we’re going out for Chinese tonight before the movie starts.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!
CHICKEN FRIED RICE
Adapted from Brian Biddle
- 1 lb. of boneless skinless chicken breast (you can also use pork chops, shrimp or a combination!)
- 2 tsp. celery salt
- 1 Tbsp. canola oil
- 4 Tbsp. butter
- 1 1/2 cups diced carrots
- 1 1/2 cups diced celery (Chop up the leaves too! They add a lot of flavor.)
- 1 large onion, diced
- 6 eggs, beaten
- 4 cups cooked rice
- 1 cup frozen peas
- 2-4 Tbsp. soy sauce
- Sprinkle the celery salt and some pepper over your chicken, or pork, or shrimp).
- Heat the canola oil in a large, cast iron (or just very heavy) skillet over medium heat.
- Add the chicken to the pan, and cook until just almost cooked through, turning a couple of times, about 6-10 minutes depending on thickness. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
- Add the butter to the pan. Once the butter is melted, add the carrots, celery and onions and cook for 3-4 minutes, just until the veggies start to soften. As the veggies are cooking, dice the chicken.
- Push the veggies over to one side of the pan, allowing some of the juices to flow back into the empty half. Add the beaten eggs to the empty side, and scramble the eggs.
- Mix the scrambled eggs in with the veggies.
- Carefully mix in the rice and the diced chicken. Mix well.
- Now, wait for 2-3 minutes before stirring again. Let the rice toast up on the bottom a bit. Then, using a large spatula, pull the rice up from the bottom and fold it over the top. Repeat this process 2 or 3 times more, until the rice looks toasty enough for you.
- In the last 5 minutes of cooking, stir in the frozen peas and the soy sauce.
- Serve with egg rolls!