Double Pepper Kung Pao


1 LB Chicken Breasts
1 Tbs cornstarch
1-2 Tbs Olive Oil
1-2 tsp Sesame Oil (dark type)
3 Tbs Green Onions
1 Tbs Crushed Garlic
1/2 tsp grated Ginger
1/2 cup Onion
1 cup Red Bell Pepper
1/3 cup Almonds
3-6 Red Chili Peppers
1/4 Cup Soy
1/4 Rice Vinegar
1 Tbs Splenda

Chop the onion and red pepper in a medium dice. Slice the scallions including the greens, removing any limp or aging green ends. Set aside. USING RUBBER GLOVES, chop the stems from the peppers and shake out any loose seeds unless you really like it hot. You may only want to use a few peppers or may use them all but take out all seeds to reduce the heat. Experimenting is the only way to figure out what you'll like best!

Prepare the sauce: Whisk together soy, vinegar, and Splenda. Add the crushed garlic clove and grated ginger and set aside for the finish.

Now, cut the chicken into cubes as uniformly as possible so everything will cook at the same rate. Toss the chicken in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of corn starch to coat. Use a tablespoon of the olive oil and half as much sesame oil which brings in one of the powerful flavor elements of Kung Pao. Be sure to use the toasted sesame oil that is dark in color and very pungent.  Set the flame at about Medium or slightly above and with skillet hot, add oils and toss in the chicken, turning fairly continuously to cook quickly for about 5 minutes or until it has just cooked through. I usually cut through the largest piece in the pan to be sure - if that one is done you know all the other pieces will be too. Don't crowd the pan or the chicken will steam instead of stir fry when the pieces begin to give off juice. Better to divide and conquer two quick stirfries than pile it all in and get a lousy result! When done, remove the chicken to a clean bowl or plate and add the onion, bell pepper, and scallions to the pan. For more heat, you can add the chili peppers now too instead of at the end. The pan will have a perfect layer of browned bits that will start to come up when the vegetables exude their juice. If the pan starts to look too brown before than happens, add less than 1/4 cup water and scrape with the spatula as you turn the vegetables. Give the vegetables just a few minutes to barely soften and sweeten. A little crunch is good. Move the vegetables from the pan to join the chicken.

Pour sauce into the now empty pan, along with chili peppers if you didn't add them earlier, and bring up to a fast bubble for 4-5 minutes. If there is anything at all left sticking to the bottom of the pan it should come up now with a little scraping. Lastly, add chicken and vegetables back to the pan with the almonds and toss for several minutes to coat and reheat all. Serve and enjoy!

Notes for Take Shape for Life program - this equals about two six-oz servings of lean and all three condiment servings for the day, as well as the snack allotment of almonds.

Jan Burke