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Spice Rubbed Chicken or Tofu

Posted Jan 27 2009 8:20pm

Ah, one of the greatest things about school is how the intensity of the semester makes breaks all the more delightful! As I'm sure you can imagine, I've been cooking up a storm this past week... It's been such a glorious gift to linger in the kitchen, trying new ideas and evolving new recipes. My cooking endeavors lately seem to fall into 3 categories - elaborate meals that I wouldn't have had time to prepare during the semester, expedient recipes that I'll be able to add to my repertoire for time-scarce clinical nights in the upcoming semester, and finally, baking baking and more baking (to such an extent that when I came home from work last week and suggested to Zach that I was thinking of baking him cupcakes, his hasty response was "No, please, you've already baked 3 batches of cookies... Why don't you bake some bread instead?" Which I did - and more about the bread in the near future.)

At the moment, though, I want to share a recipe that belongs to the second category, and which renders such magic in an unbelievably simple manner that we were completely awed with the results. An intense spice rub, melded with just a wee bit of raw sugar, caramelizes around chicken and tofu to produce slightly sticky, sweet-spicy morsels that are simply transporting... Especially with a streamlined, surprisingly low-fat gravy...

Spice-Rubbed Chicken or Tofu

1 T sugar
1 T chili powder
2 T olive oil
2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes OR 2 lbs tofu, cut into 1" cubes (you can also keep the chicken breasts whole, or use slices of tofu, if you want a larger presentation, as I did the second time I fixed this recipe, depicted in the first picture above... it will just take longer to cook.)
1 T olive oil

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 T brown gravy mix or whole wheat flour
1 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth

Brown rice for serving
Roasted red pepper strips, for garnish (optional)

~ To make the spice rub, whisk together the first 9 ingredients to make a paste.
~ Coat the chicken or tofu cubes well with the paste.
~ In a large skillet on medium-high, heat the 1 T olive oil and saute the chicken or tofu until the chicken is cooked through or the tofu is browned on the outside.
~ To make the gravy, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium high heat until the onion is limp and translucent. Reduce the heat to medium, whisk in the brown gravy mix or flour, and cook for one minute, whisking quickly and constantly. Continuing to whisk vigerously, gradually pour in the broth. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, whisking occasionally, until the desired thickness is reached.
~ To serve, top the rice with the chicken or tofu, add some roasted red pepper strips if you desire, and top everything with gravy... Voila! Easy-breezy! The chicken or tofu is also lovely just plain as well...

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