Pioneer Woman Cashew Chicken Recipe Makeover

November 10, 2015

I haven’t told you this yet, but I adore Pioneer Woman.  Watching her show is like eating a brownie ice cream sundae– so warm and comforting.  I love her demeanor, her beautiful kitchen, and some part of me feels like I’m reliving my childhood watching her cook with all that white flour and sugar.

You may be wondering why I like the show so much since I don’t often eat the aforementioned ingredients (or most of the things she makes for that matter), but I have found that it is a fun challenge to revise her recipes to suit my diet.  This cashew chicken recipe didn’t need too much of a makeover truthfully, and the swaps I used perfectly preserve the flavors of the original recipe.  There is nothing quite like an Asian-inspired meal and when the mood strikes, it is so much wiser to put the effort into the homemade version than to order takeout.  Your body will thank you the next day.

Here is Pioneer Woman’s recipe with my swaps in parenthesis.  My version of the recipe is paleo-friendly and gluten-free (except I did eat it with rice, which is not paleo-friendly).  You can also serve it with cauliflower rice or no rice; however, I think it needs a little something with it– and I mean something more substantial than that measly serving of kale shown below.

cashew chicken

1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (I skipped this because I didn’t have it and it was still great)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce (swap for coconut aminos)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into small cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (swap with coconut oil)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup dry sherry (I didn’t have this, so I swapped with chicken stock)
2 tablespoons cornstarch (swap with arrowroot starch– it’s a great thickener)
1 cup whole roasted, unsalted cashews
1/3 cup water chestnuts, chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
In a bowl, combine the vinegar, sugar, oyster sauce, sesame oil, 1/4 cup of the coconut aminos and 1 tablespoon of the ginger. Set aside.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and saute until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

In the same skillet, stir-fry the garlic, bell peppers and remaining 2 tablespoons ginger, keeping them crisp-tender. Deglaze the skillet with the sherry or broth and scrape up any brown bits. Add the reserved coconut aminos mixture and cook until the mixture boils, about 1 minute. Whisk together the arrowroot starch and remaining 1/4 cup coconut aminos in a small bowl, then stir the slurry into the skillet. Add the cashews and water chestnuts. Add 1/4 cup water to thin the sauce. Cook for another minute. Serve garnished with the scallions and cilantro.

For the original Pioneer Woman Cashew Chicken recipe, click here.

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