Stir-Fried Chicken with Broccoli and Walnuts

Makes 4 servings
Time: 20 minutes

This is the basic technique for stir-frying without a huge wok, one I've used for twenty years or so, and Charles agrees that it's pretty much the only way to go for home cooks.

In fact, his one criticism of my dish (during the making of which he commented that I must have had "Asian blood") was the hoisin-he said it robbed the dish of subtlety (something for which I've never been known). So let's consider it optional, though I'll continue to use it.

2 cups broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons peanut oil, or neutral oil like corn or canola, as needed
1 pound boneless chicken meat, preferably from the thigh, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup trimmed and chopped scallions
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce (optional)
Black pepper if necessary

1. Set a medium pot of water to boil and salt it. Poach the broccoli in the water until it turns bright green and begins to become tender, just a couple of minutes. Drain.

2. Heat a large frying pan over very high heat until smoking. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and, a few seconds later, as much chicken as will fit in one layer (you may have to cook the chicken in two batches). Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the meat loses its pinkness, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.

3. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown a bit, then remove with a slotted spoon. Add the remaining oil, along with the ginger and garlic. Stir for 30 seconds; return the broccoli and chicken to the pan, along with the stock.

4. Cook for about 1 minute, then add the nuts. Stir once or twice; if the mixture dries out at this or any other point, add a splash of water. Stir in the scallions and, if you're using it, the hoisin. Taste, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed, and serve.