I was going to call this recipe “No Spring Chicken” because it contains the spices of fall (get it?), but it didn’t sound quite as appetizing.
I’ve had to get creative with my dairy-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, fun-free diet of undetermined length (as part of my own cleanse), because I’m getting tired of straight-up stir fry. I’m happy to report that this experiment turned out well. I rarely think to use spices like cinnamon and nutmeg in savory dishes, but they gave the dish a sweet nuttiness, and the celery provided a subtle crunch. The dish tasted nice and light because I used almond milk, and you can give it more heartiness by using cow’s milk and/or real cream.
Important note on leeks: use the white part and discard the green, the opposite of the way you’d use a green onion. Make sure to wash the leeks thoroughly, as they usually have silt inside their layers. I like to slice them and separate the rings into a bowl full of water, swish them around, drain, and repeat. Leeks are super nutritious and have a sweetness to them when cooked well.
Note that the recipe serves two, but you can easily double it.
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into small cubes
1 leek, chopped (the white part; discard the green)
2 celery stalks, finely sliced
2 cups milk or substitute (I used unsweetened plain almond milk)
Thickening agent (1/2 tbsp. cornstarch or 1 tbsp. flour)
Minced garlic (around 1/2 tsp., to taste)
Minced ginger (around 1/4 tsp., to taste)
Salt & pepper
Optional: chopped or slivered almonds
Grain of your choice (quinoa, couscous, rice, etc.)
Set your grain to boil in a small pot. In a large frying pan, saute garlic and ginger in olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped leeks and celery and saute until tender (celery will still be a bit crunchy). Add chicken and continue to saute, adding more olive oil if necessary. When the chicken cooks about halfway, liberally sprinkle cinnamon and nutmeg (I made two passes over the saucepan with each spice) and stir to distribute spices over the ingredients. Add salt and pepper to taste.
If you will be using flour to thicken the sauce, heat milk in separate saucepan to almost boiling and gradually add flour, stirring constantly to prevent lumps, and then add the thickened milk to the frying pan. If you’re using cornstarch, you can add the milk directly to the frying pan once the chicken is cooked. Mix the cornstarch with enough water to liquefy it, and stir into the saucepan once the milk is just at a boil. Add a bit more salt and pepper to the sauce.
Let the sauce simmer for five minutes or so, letting it thicken, and serve over your grain of choice. If you like, top with pieces of almond. I served steamed broccoli on the side.