Feb 26, 2013

sesame chicken noodles

The baby is always on my mind these days. Preparing the room, registering for all things mini, feeling the kicks, counting down the weeks (8), taking a baby & birthing class. I catch myself feeling like I'm in a holding pattern, like I'm just waiting for little babe's arrival. I mean, nothing will be the same... which is kind of amazing. (also, scary.)

About this baby class. Taught by local birthing-guru Pat Nielsen at ARROW, a family-oriented community space, we had 6 weeks with 5 other couples to GET READY FOR A BABE. Swaddling, check. Icky birthing videos, done. Labor support techniques, yep. Asking lots and lots of questions, oh yes. If you're newly pregnant and in the Athens-area, I'd highly recommend it. We wrapped up our class with a potluck dinner and new mamas telling their birth stories. It was a carb-heavy meal; clearly mamas-to-be were responsible for the food. ;)

We took Cook's Illustrated's Sesame Chicken Noodles - a total winner. It doubles easily, reheats well, and will please your food-discerning husband. Here's the recipe for you.

Sesame Chicken Noodles (adapted from Cook's Illustrated), serves 4-6

¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup chunky peanut butter
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
2 tablespoons lightly packed light brown sugar
Hot water
3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1½ pounds), trimmed of excess fat
1 tablespoon salt
12 ounces dried spaghetti
2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
4 scallions, sliced thin on diagonal
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated on large holes of box grater (about 2/3 cup)

1. Toast the sesame seeds in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon sesame seeds in a small bowl. In a blender or food processor, puree the remaining 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, and sugar until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, about 5 tablespoons; set the mixture aside.

2. Bring 6 quarts water to a boil in a stockpot over high heat. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to 6 inches from the broiler element; heat the broiler. Spray the broiler pan top with vegetable cooking spray; place the chicken breasts on top and broil the chicken until lightly browned, 4 to 8 minutes. Using tongs, flip the chicken over and continue to broil until the thickest part is no longer pink when cut into and registers about 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside. Add the salt and noodles to the boiling water; boil the noodles until tender, about 4 minutes for fresh and 10 minutes for dried. Drain, then rinse with cold running tap water until cool to the touch; drain again. In a large bowl, toss the noodles with the sesame oil until evenly coated. Add the shredded chicken, scallions, carrot, and sauce; toss to combine. Divide among individual bowls, sprinkle each bowl with a portion of reserved sesame seeds, and serve.

P.S. this also makes a great late-night snack :)

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