Apparently, this is a very popular dish at P.F. Chang’s and The Cheesecake Factory. I have not tasted either but I get it: yummy, diced stir-fried, slightly spicy chicken perfectly complemented by a cold, crunchy leaf of Bibb lettuce. And I can see how someone could drive themselves crazy trying to reproduce this at home.
All you really need to know is: use dark meat. You’d be tempted to use chicken breasts and you would end up with something dry and uninteresting and you’d be right back at Chang’s, waiting for your vibrating beeper to go off so you could blow your hard-earned cash on more Asian Meth Wraps.
Which is completely unnecessary because, with the right formula, this is a very easy weeknight dish. I’m sure it’s just as good as The Cheesecake Factory and you won’t end the evening rendered inert by trying to digest a Homer-Simpson sized wedge of White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut cheesecake. (And friends, do you really want to eat at a place that rather than provide nutritional information on its web site says ”We pride ourselves on using only the freshest and finest ingredients available. Everything on our menu is made in-house on a daily basis so that we can maintain the highest food quality standards”? Why don’t they just say “You don’t want to know” and get it over with? Not that anyone goes to a place like this their first day of Weight Watchers but seriously, these folks could find a way to make the Bibb lettuce alone 350 calories and 19 grams of fat.)
To recap: SO delicious, pretty quick, and kind of fun albeit messy to eat. Let me also tell you that using the optional Hoisin Sauce garnish is not just bad judgment but might actually be a crime. They are perfect without it. (They are also perfect even when you realize you used all the shiitakes you had on hand earlier in the week and have to reconstitute an inadequte amount of unlabled dry mushrooms instead. Improv!)
Chinese Chicken Lettuce Wraps are in the May/June 2012 issue of Cook’s Illustrated.