In the same way that fans get excited over a new movie, or for the premiere of a beloved TV drama (Game of Thrones, anyone?), I get excited for a new farm-share season. I'm a food geek like that. Opening a box stuffed to the brim with fresh veggies, leafy greens, and a bounty of fruit, makes my fingers itch for kitchen tools.
Unfortunately, we aren't quite there yet. The good news is that we can cheat a little! The first greenhouse beauties are coming into the local markets, and even in early April, we can still get some pretty good produce to lighten up the menu.
This recipe for Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Jicama is flavorful, easy, and super-healthy...really everything a spring dish should be! Bibb lettuce acts as a crunchy green cup for tender ground chicken flavored with soy, rice wine vinegar, and jalapeño peppers. The unexpected crisp bite of jicama makes a great textural counterpoint to the softer chicken & mushrooms, and is also a fantastic healthy alternative to the hard to find (at least in my area) traditional fresh water chestnuts. No canned stuff for us - it's springtime, baby!
makes 8-12 lettuce cups
1 pound ground chicken (I prefer organic chicken if available)
2 cups jicama, peeled & diced
1/2 cup scallion, chopped
6-8 ounces mushrooms, roughly chopped
1-2 large jalapeño peppers, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 head bibb lettuce
Salt and pepper to taste
Begin by prepping all of your vegetables and measuring out your liquids. You are going to be cooking at high temperatures, and working very quickly, so it's best to have everything ready at hand!
Place a large skillet over high heat and add the 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to the pan. Heat until pan is sizzling hot.
Once at temperature, add the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly shrunken and browned, stirring occasionally.
Next, add the ground chicken, and using a spatula, break the meat apart. Add a pinch of salt to start seasoning the meat. Cook 1 min, then add the soy sauce and a couple of grinds of fresh black pepper. Continue to mix every so often, to avoid burning. Cook thoroughly - The chicken will turn from pink to white, when cooked.
Add the rice wine vinegar, jalapeño peppers (1 pepper for mild, 2 peppers for spicy), scallions, garlic and sugar to the chicken. Stir gently. Allow the liquid to cook and reduce by half.
Once reduced, add the diced jicama and cook until slightly softened.
While the jicama cooks, quickly rinse and dry your Bibb lettuce leaves. Arrange on a platter.
Once the chicken mixture is finished, adjust the salt & pepper to taste. Serve alongside the lettuce leaves and garnish with scallions & jalapeño slices.