Thai-ing To Lose Weight: Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Gluten Free Chicken Ground

Thai these to help lose weight

If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you know that the trip to thinner isn’t always a direct route. I mean, let’s face it life isn’t linear. Sometimes it’s the most circuitous of routes that leads us to our desired destination. Sometimes it’s the countless number of times that we hit the wall of a maze that brings us to the end of our journey.

So in the quest to lose my Sandy 15lbs, I took a detour to Thanksgiving – read: ate lots of stuffing, mashed potatoes and pie. Look! There I am on Nantucket with Veep Joe Biden:

VP Joe Biden on Nantucket

Look at his shiny teeth!

Do you think he thinks I look fat? Nah, he’s too nice and shiny to think that!

So now that my favorite holiday has passed and my time with Biden (or, more accurately, my time stalking the vice president on the tiny island) is over, I’m taking the right steps to shed a few lbs.

Recent meals have featured Carnival Squash and Simply Grilled Shrimp.

squash week

Lo-Cal Carnival

Marinated Grilled Shrimp
Lo-Cal Grilled Shrimp

But last night I wanted to do something a little more interesting. So I tried a taste of lo-cal Thai.

You will want to prep ahead cuz this is easy but takes like :90 mins in total.

Pretty Lo-Cal Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps (serves 4)

Oh! And they’re gluten-free as well!

OK…First and foremost, there is a lot of prep of ingredients in the chicken wraps – so do yourself a favor and mise en place.

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

A Mise En Place to make Chef Anne Burrell Proud

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 TBSP lime juice
  • 1-2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1/8 Cup of sugar
  • 2 TBSP Asian Fish Sauce, like Ka*Me found in the Asian area at Fairway
  • 1 1/2 TSP Chili Pepper Paste, like Amore – hard to find this – had to ask nice Fairway worker guy
  • Vegetable oil – not Olive Oil
  • Peeling fresh Ginger

    Ginger

    2 TBSP grated fresh ginger – remember, you should have some peeled ginger stored in your freezer

  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 1 TSP kosher salt – or less
  • 4 Scallions thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot grated
  • 1/2 cup canned, drained water chestnuts, diced
  • The recipe also calls for 3 TBSP chopped fresh mint leaves and 2 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro – I prepped both of these ingredients…but then forgot to stir them in at the end. So you can skip it if you like.

1. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, lemon juice, fish sauce and chili pepper paste and set aside. The recipe called for Asian Chile Paste…but I couldn’t find it at Fairway, so I bought Amore Chile Pepper Paste – I think that’s the same thing?

Lo-Cal Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

The liquids

2. Heat about 2 TBSP of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

3. Add the garlic and the ginger and stir until fragrant (about 2 mins)

Thai lettuce wraps

Don’t Let the Garlic Burn! Cuz you’d have to start over

3. Add the chicken and salt and cook completely – about 6 mins

NOTE: the recipe called for a ton of salt…but, I used just shy of a tsp and it was more than enough

Gluten free ground chicken

Browning the Gluten Free Chicken

4. Stir in the scallions, carrot and water chestnuts and heat through (about 2 more mins)

thai chicken lettuce wraps

OOOH! Look at the pretty colors!

5. Transfer the chicken mixture to a bowl and let cool about :05 mins

6. Add in the lemony-limey-fish saucy liquid mixture, 1 tbsp at a time. Once the chicken mixture is moistened, but not swimming, stop adding the liquid. I added too much and it was delicious, but a little messy to eat

thai chicken lettuce wraps

A little too liquid-y

7. Cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for about an hour

8. Prepare 8-10 Bibb or Boston lettuce leaves – you know, like wash them and stuff

9. Put a heap of the chilled chicken mixture inside each lettuce leaf and serve

Thai Chicken Lettuce wraps

Beautifully Tasty and Lo-Cal

My journey to weight loss like most of life’s journeys has not been via a direct route. But, in spite of stops at Beef Wellington and Thanksgiving Stuffing, I’m getting there. It’s not easy at this time of year what with the Lincoln Center Winter’s Eve fest last night featuring fab food fare from all of the local restaurants (like the toasted gnocchi tastes from Bar Boulud’s Tent – OMG!). But, I am Thai-ing so that maybe next time I see Veep Joe B, I’ll be just a little bit thinner.

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A Moveable Feast…And, A Feast that Moved

Ernest Hemingway’s ability to say so much in so few words strikes a spot in my soul. His style isn’t for everyone, but I’ve always loved his words. His last book was A Moveable Feast. Published in 1964, three years after Hemingway’s suicide, the book is a compilation of autobiographical stories that his widow and fourth wife, Mary Hemingway, culled from the author’s personal notes. The book chronicals Hemingway’s time spent in Paris beginning in the ’20’s with  the likes of Gertrude Stein, F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, James Joyce and others. About the city of lights, he told his friend and later his biographer, AE Hotchner: ‘If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

I think everyone knows of such a place – a place that stays with them forever. This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to be hosted by my friend, Sam, whose moveable feast is Nantucket. The tiny island off the elbow of Cape Cod isn’t everyone’s moveable feast…but, while up there, we did have a feast that moved. Sam’s sister who also has a home on the island arrived early Saturday morning after a 27 hour trek from Utah. With three friends coming to stay, she planned to host a barbecue at her home that night and invited us for dinner. Once settled in, Sam’s sister discovered her grill didn’t work…And at 4pm Saturday it was determined to move the dinner to Sam’s where we were happy to chef and host.

With only two hours and limited supplies, we created a truly impressive feast.

Flank Steak, marinated for two hours in a simple mix of garlic, soy sauce and olive oil. Grilled about 7 minutes per side on med/high heat and served sliced.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts – seven medium sized. Whisk together a combination of 1 tbsp whole grain and 1 tbsp dijon mustard with the juice of 1 1/5 lemons and the juice of 1 lime. Once completely combined, slowly whisk in 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil.  Whisk until the mixture is emulsified and all bubbles disappear. Stir in about a tablespoon of dried thyme – crushed in your hands to release the flavor. Add my new favorite ingredient: Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt. Pour over the chicken. Chiffonade a few basil leaves and add to the tops of the chicken. Marinade covered in the fridge for two hours.

Grill chicken for 5-7 minutes per side over med/high heat.

Corn on the cob -We soaked seven corns in their husks in water for about :30 minutes and then grilled over medium heat for :15 minutes. Let cool. Shuck and serve.

Roasted potatoes. To speed things up, I cubed a medium bag of yellow potatoes. In a bowl, I combined 1/4 to 1/3 cup Olive Oil, 1 large Diced Shallot, about a tsp of dried rosemary (crushed in my palms) and…1 tbsp of Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Salt. This mixture was then tossed with the cubed potatoes and put on a baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Into the oven at 450 for :45 minutes. Warning! Yellow potatoes have a higher moisture content than regular russet potatoes and will emit a good deal of steam in the oven. The steam will burst out and curl your eyelashes when you open the door – I know because it happened to me. Take caution.

Easy salad of arugula, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado and a olive oil/balsamic/dijon vinaigrette.

It was a last minute move and a quickly prepared meal. The nature reserve that backs Sam’s property provided the perfect back drop on a cool and breezy but rainless Nantucket night. It’s nights like these that help us understand why, for many, Nantucket is a moveable feast. The guests had a great time and we came away looking like kitchen rock stars…Isn’t it pretty to think so?