Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Blue Apron Recipe: Stir-Fried Chicken & Udon Noodles

We recently tried Blue Apron for the first time. I had been wanting to test it out but kept putting it off, thinking it wouldn't be much different than us ordering Peapod and making recipes I had researched on the internet. But when my girlfriend had a code for a free week, I took advantage to get a real taste of how it works and overall, we really enjoyed it. 

We have tried four different meals now, all which were delicious, even if they were very simple. When we got the makings for spaghetti and meatballs, I figured it couldn't be anything special but with everything being so fresh, it was 100x better than our normal boxed wheat pasta and jarred pasta sauce (a staple in our house for a very busy, "we don't want to cook" kind of day). But this stir fry recipe was by far my favorite...I'm already a big fan of Asian inspired dishes and this one was really easy to put together, not taking too much time and it was SO good. I could have eaten an entire bowl of the udon noodles by themselves but the veggies and roasted cashews were the perfect additions.

Stir-Fried Chicken & Udon Noodles


INGREDIENTS: 
  • 1 1/8 pounds sliced chicken breast
  • 1 pound fresh udon noodles
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 scallions
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 3 tablespoons roasted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraiche
  • 1 1-inch piece of ginger
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • ¼ cup soy glaze 


DIRECTIONS:

1) PREPARE THE INGREDIENTS: Wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel the carrots; thinly slice into rounds. Cut off and discard the tough, woody stem ends of the asparagus; cut into 1-inch pieces on an angle, leaving the pointed tips intact. Peel and finely chop the ginger. Cut off and discard the root ends of the scallions; thinly slice, separating the white bottoms and green tops. Roughly chop the cashews.

2) COOK THE CHICKEN: Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; place in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper; toss to coat. In a large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. Leaving any browned bits (or fond) in the pot, transfer to a plate and set aside in a warm place.

3) COOK THE CARROTS: Add the carrots to the pot of reserved fond; season with salt and pepper. (If the pot seems dry, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil.) Cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly softened.

4) ADD ASPARAGUS AND AROMATICS: Add the asparagusginger, and white bottoms of the scallions to the pot. Add a drizzle of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until the asparagus is slightly softened. Add 2 tablespoons of water and cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the water has cooked off.

5) FINISH THE STIR-FRY: Add the soy glazevinegar, and ½ cup of water to the pot. Cook, stirring constantly, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until well combined. Add the noodles (carefully separating with your hands before adding) and cooked chicken. Cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until heated through and the noodles are coated. Turn off the heat and stir in the crème fraîche. (If the sauce seems dry, stir in up to 3 tablespoons of water to achieve your desired consistency.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.


If you're thinking about trying Blue Apron, here are few of my pro's and con's about the service in general:

PRO'S:
  • When I look up recipes online I want to try, so often there are ingredients I might feel hesitant to purchase because I don't know how to cook it or prepare it effectively. This makes that MUCH easier with the easy to follow recipes and descriptions of how it all goes together.
  • I LOVE that all of the ingredients are delivered in the correct proportions - it feels much less like work when you don't have to measure out 3 tbs of butter or 1tsp of rice vinegar. On that same note, it prevents you from having to buy a whole bottle of something you might only use every 6 months.
  • It really improved my confidence in cooking - I've never been shy about following recipe, but it certainly doesn't come natural to me and too often, we just make something because it's easy. So I was really excited to whip up some more in-depth meals and feel proud about what I was serving :)
CON'S:

  • All four times I made one of the recipes, it took significantly longer than the recipe stated. Significantly. Maybe that's because I'm not a top chef (and needed to google the best way to peel & dice garlic) but I've also read a lot of comments from other subscribers who feel the same way. It's not necessarily a bad thing, just something to keep in mind with your schedule.
  • We tried the Family plan which is 2 recipes a week, both which are supposed to serve 4 people. Well, there's only 2 of us (for a few more months!), and all four times, we barely had leftovers, if any at all. You could just say we were hungry but again, I read a lot of similar comments. 
  • It's not inexpensive - You have to consider what you spend on groceries each week to figure out if you can fit this in. We figured we might be able to cut down on our grocery spending if we had this to take care of our dinners (and some leftover lunches) each week but I'm not sure it evens out. I do like that you can skip certain weeks though so maybe you just have it delivered on weeks where you don't want to shop or you think the recipes look extra tasty.

Have you tried any of the meal delivery services? 
What are your thoughts?