Chinese Chicken Stew

Chinese Chicken Stew

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder*
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 package (8 ounces) fresh mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (about 14 ounces) chicken broth, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 large red bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 large green onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon sesame oil
3 cups hot cooked white rice (optional)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Toss chicken with five-spice powder in small bowl. Season with red pepper flakes. Heat peanut oil in large skillet. Add onion and chicken; cook and stir about 5 minutes or until chicken is browned. Add mushrooms and garlic; cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink.

Combine 1/4 cup broth and cornstarch in small bowl; set aside. Place cooked chicken mixture, remaining broth, red bell pepper and soy sauce in slow cooker. Cover; cook on LOW 3 1/2 hours or until peppers are tender.

Stir in cornstarch mixture, green onions and sesame oil. Cook 30 to 45 minutes or until juices have thickened. Ladle into soup bowls; scoop 1/2 cup rice into each bowl and sprinkle with cilantro, if desired.

Makes 4 servings

*Chinese five-spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, anise and Szechuan peppercorns. It is available in most supermarkets and at Asian grocers.

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