We all have our guilty pleasures, things we hate to admit we love.
When I was in the sixth grade, I loved New Kids on the Block. I mean, I seriously loved them.
There was no use in denying it: I had bad taste.
As much as I’d like to admit things have changed, they really haven’t. Confession: I have seen “You’ve Got Mail” over 200 times. Anyone who has seen “You’ve Got Mail” as many times, who can quote it verbatim without it even being on, knows that I just stole that line from the movie. There is this scene where Kathleen, Meg Ryan’s character, first meets Hanks’ character, Joe Fox. She’s talking to his brother, who’s about 4, and he’s telling her that the girl Kathleen thinks is his sister is really his aunt.
“I don’t think she could be you’re aunt,” Kathleen says.
“No, no. It’s true,” Joe tells her. “Matthew is my father’s son, Annabelle is my grandfather’s daughter. We are an American family.”
I love that, because it’s so true. The nuclear family is dead, and my family is no exception.
Holidays, whatever they may be, are an amalgam of families, friends and traditions. It’s made for an interesting scrapbook of memories, yet it leaves me empty-handed when I’m asked to recall my favorite family recipe.
Brainstorming for this column was exhausting, and my family was no help. “Make something up,” they told me. But I’ve done better than that. I’ve made an amalgam of my own.
A good family friend and old neighbor recently reminded me that my mother used to always crave hoisin chicken. But according to the story, Mom would always be missing one ingredient, which she would walk next door and borrow.
One year, around the holidays, mom was at the neighbor’s when she got a craving. Problem was, she had none of the ingredients, except the chicken.
Again, I feel like I’m the only one laughing, but it really is funny in that I-have-a-really-bad-sense-of-humor sort of way.
Plus, hoisin chicken evokes memories of another favorite movie, “A Christmas Story.”
Chicken with hoisin sauce
This recipe goes well with steamed rice.
3/4 cup canned reduced-salt chicken broth
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 garlic clove, pressed
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, about 1 1/4 pounds
2 tablespoons unseasoned dry breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon peanut or canola oil
3 tablespoons dry vermouth or water
In a small bowl, combine the broth, hoisin sauce, cornstarch, sugar, sesame oil and garlic. Whisk to combine.
Lightly coat the chicken with breadcrumbs. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 6 minutes. Add the vermouth, cover, and thoroughly cook the chicken over low heat, about 10 minutes. Remove the chicken to serving plates. Whisk the broth mixture again and add to the skillet. Cook over high heat, stirring to remove any brown particles on the bottom, until the sauce bubbles and is lightly thickened. Spoon over the chicken.