No. 326: Stir-Fried Chicken With Ketchup & The New York Times Cooking

Happy Easter!

I hope it was a day full of family, fun, bunnies, chocolate, sunrise services, seersucker, brunch, mimosas, gathering, reflection, egg hunts, pastel colors ... whatever brings you joy on this special holiday.

Since our kiddos aren't quite up to egg hunts yet (they'd get mowed over by a 4-year-old in a heartbeat), we went the simple route with brunch at the North Carolina Arboretum. We had a fantastic time with the grandparents and Calene.

Brunch squad
[A good friend correctly pointed out that it looks like James is about to scam from Mr. McC's plate!]

Our brunch squad represented well, and the babies adored the menu:

  • Peach-glazed ham
  • Soft butter rolls
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Breakfast casserole with egg, sausage, croutons and cheese
  • Asparagus
  • Salad
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Crepes suzette (complete with brandy flambe!)
  • Banana pudding
  • Fruit tarts with lemon custard

The babies chorused for "More!" several times during the meal.

I easily could have eaten the fruit tarts for my entire meal with no problem - the lemon custard was that light and delicious. James could have watched the Crepes Suzette station (fire!!!) all day and Caroline rocked her Easy Seat portable highchair.

Caroline enjoying brunch from her Easy Seat

We filled our tummies and were home by 1pm for naps. And not just naps for the kiddos:)

Next year we'll give in to Easter baskets, coordinating pastels and egg hunts. But this was a perfect first Easter as a family of four.

The New York Times

This is a bit of an awkward segue from Easter, but have you subscribed to The New York Times Cooking page email?

If not, do it. Now. I'll wait ...

Ok, now that you're back, you're going to love it.

Every day, The Times will send a lovely little write up to your inbox full of ideas for cooking. Don't worry, it's not all Portuguese Egg Custard Tarts and slave your life away roasts. You'll get those more obscure things, sure. But you'll also get fantastic categories like:

And more!

So sign up. You won't regret it. The writing is pithy and worth it, even if you don't feel like cooking:)

Stir-Fried Chicken With Ketchup

There's high end Easter brunch, and on the opposite end of the spectrum is ketchup chicken. But I found it on the NYT Cooking page as one of their most popular recipes, so that classes it up I'm sure.


1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken, preferably dark meat, in 1/2- to 1-inch chunks
1/2 cup flour, more as needed
4 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons slivered garlic
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 cup ketchup

To make

Toss chicken with flour so that it is lightly dusted. Put 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet, preferably nonstick, and turn heat to high. When oil smokes, add chicken in one layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

When chicken browns on one side, toss it and cook until just about done: smaller pieces will take 5 minutes total, larger pieces about 10. Remove to a plate. Turn off heat and let pan cool for a moment.

Add remaining oil to pan and turn heat to medium high. Add garlic and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add ketchup and stir; cook until ketchup bubbles, then darkens slightly. Return chicken to pan and stir to coat with sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve.

The results

Ketchup by itself is pretty darn good. Sweet, but tasty.

What's great about this recipe is that it takes all the things we love about ketchup and elevates them just a tad so it feels different.

Final plate
Photo credit: Suzy Allman for The New York Times

Cayenne, garlic and seared ketchup makes a terrific little tomato sauce. What could be homemade chicken nuggets feels a bit more special.

Kids would love this, as did we adults. You could easily replace ketchup with bbq or buffalo sauce (minus the garlic and cayenne) and have a similar pleasing result.


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Amelia McCormick

Kansas girl transplanted to Asheville, North Carolina. Smiler, lover of great food and wine, facilitator, runner, storyteller, wife, optimist, and mother of sweet twins:)

Asheville, North Carolina