Wrap it up: Make Super-easy Restaurant-style Asian Lettuce Cups
It’s OK to admit how much we all love those addictive Asian lettuce wraps, and it’s also OK to admit what a toll eating them in restaurants can take on our wallets. Here’s an option to save time, money and quell those cravings: Make a batch of healthy homemade chicken or turkey filling and stash it in the fridge for quick heat-and-serve weeknight meals or supremely satisfying lunches.
Make-ahead lettuce wraps
Makes: 4 servings
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
1 head of sturdy lettuce such as bibb, romaine or iceberg
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds ground turkey or chicken
1 small bell pepper (green, red or any other color you prefer), finely diced
1 large carrot, finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup finely sliced scallions, light green and dark green parts only (from about 2-3 scallions)
Sriracha or other hot sauce for serving
1 to 2 days ahead: Prep the lettuce and make the filling
Prep the lettuce: Separate the head of lettuce into individual leaves. Rinse and dry, either with a salad spinner or by hand, using clean kitchen towels or paper towels to pat the leaves dry.
Refrigerate the lettuce leaves until ready to assemble and serve, either inside the salad spinner or between layers of clean, dry kitchen towels or paper towels in an airtight container to wick away excess moisture. (Lettuce leaves can also be stored in individual serving sizes for lunches on the go.)
Cook the meat: Whisk the broth, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch together in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat until shimmering.
Add half the ground meat in handfuls, distributing it in a single layer in the pan. Cook without stirring until the meat starts to brown, then stir and start breaking up the meat into smaller pieces.
When the meat is no longer pink, transfer it to a bowl. Add the remaining oil and meat to the pan and cook in the same manner.
Finish the filling: Return all the meat to the pan and add the bell pepper, carrot, garlic and ginger. Cook for 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften.
Whisk in the reserved broth and cook for a few more minutes to thicken the broth into a sauce.
Remove from the heat and stir in the scallions.
Store the filling: Transfer to a lidded container (or multiple containers, if you’re sending the wraps off to school or work for meals) and refrigerate until ready to eat. The cooked filling can be made up to 2 days in advance.
Ready to eat? Reheat and serve!
Reheat the meat in a covered skillet over medium-low heat until warmed through, or zap in the microwave in minute-long increments, stirring between each to warm evenly.
Spoon the warmed filling into the lettuce leaves (about 1/3-1/2 cup filling per leaf, depending on the size of your lettuce) and drizzle with Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce, if desired.
Make it a goal to source locally grown organic produce, organic pastured eggs, raw dairy products, oils, and grass-fed meats as much as possible.