during the winter, there is a lot of chili-and-cornbread-eating, curl-up-with-a-hot-bowl-of-soup nights around here. i love the warmth and the fullness of my belly after a big bowl.
but after a few months of this loveliness, i do crave a fresh, crisp, even crunchy dinner. and recently, it was these chicken lettuce cups.
if you’re like me, you first fell in love with this concept after discovering the chicken lettuce cup at p.f. chang’s. i’ve always loved their version of the dish, but this recipe is by leaps and bounds the best i have ever made myself and the best i have ever eaten. i might even like them better than p.f. chang’s.
(you can also serve this dish sans the lettuce cups and with rice instead. i used a white jasmine rice as the bed for the chicken filling a few times and it is delicious, and a little heartier.)
*to make this recipe whole30 friendly: for the dipping sauce, sub coconut aminos for the soy sauce, sub pure date syrup for the brown sugar, omit the cornstarch, and make sure there is no added sugar in your OJ.
asian chicken lettuce cups
adapted from the family chef cookbook by jewels & jill elmore
2 lbs ground chicken (you could also use turkey)
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 large carrots, peeled and shredded or finely chopped
4 green onions, finely chopped
2 tsp ground ginger
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 small can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
1 cup soy sauce
4 tbsp seasoned rice wine vinegar
4 tbsp orange juice
4 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp water
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp chili flakes
for serving: 2 heads of iceberg lettuce, washed & leaves peeled into cups
1. for the sauce, mix all sauce ingredients together with a whisk and set aside.
2. heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. when the pan is hot, add the peanut & sesame oils. saute the carrots, green onions, ginger, and garlic for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables have softened. add chicken and cook, stirring constantly to break up the meat.
3. when the chicken is almost cooked, add the sauce. bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and continue cooking 5 or 6 minutes.
4. remove pan from heat, stir in water chestnuts. spoon the mixture into lettuce cups and serve while warm.