Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Chicken Two Ways in One Week

We've been trying to use up the last of some chicken that's been frozen, and had made good headway with a couple of rounds of Kung Pao Chicken. You see, there are really only a few ways that DucCat enjoys chicken, and that tends to involve some type of frying stage, before being coated in a sauce.

Our next chicken dinner hearkened back to his days of bachelor-hood: Bourbon-Marinated Buffalo Chicken Strips

Oh, such buttery-spicy goodness! There's a reason that you don't eat something like this too often... and there's definately a reason that you should make room for it every once in a while. This recipe was from some wonderful person on Taunton's 'Cook's Talk' Forum, although I've forgotten their name.

Bourbon-Marinated Buffalo Chicken Strips with Maytag Blue Dip
4 servings

For the chicken
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs (you can also use breasts, but of course, thighs just have that lovely rich flavour)

For the dip
1/4 lb maytag blue cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 pinch cayenne

For the sauce
1/4 cup Crystal hot sauce (or another brand of cayenne hot sauce such as Frank's or Durkee, but not a fiery sauce like Tabasco)
4 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1/3 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch, mixed with
1/4 cup water

For finishing the dish
vegetable oil, about 1 quart (for frying)
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 celery heart, cut into sticks
carrots, cut into sticks

Marinate the chicken:
In a large ziploc bag, combine the bourbon, soy sauce and lemon juice.
Trim and discard any visible fat on the chicken thighs; cut each lengthwise into 4-5 strips. Add the strips to the bourbon mixture; cover and refrigerate for no more than 24 hours.

Make the dip: Blend half the cheese with the mayonnaise in a food processor until smooth. Add the sour cream and vinegar, and process until the mixture has the consistency of a creamy mayonnaise. Add the scallions, parsley and dill and process again briefly. Add the remaining cheese and process very briefly (the dip should be slightly chunky), remove from the food processor, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Wrap well and refrigerate up to four days.

Make the sauce: In a small saucepan, whisk together all of the ingredients. Heat while whisking constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. The sauce should be smooth and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

Finish the dish: Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Pour enough oil into a wok or deep, heavy pot to reach about 2 inches. Heat the oil to 365 degrees or until the oil shimmers.
Meanwhile, drain the chicken well and pat it dry on paper towel. Season with the pepper, then dredge each piece in flour, shaking off any excess. Carefully fry the chicken in batches until golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels while frying the remaining chicken.
When all the chicken is cooked, place it in a large bowl, pour the sauce overtop, then toss to coat. Spread in a single layer in a shallow dish, and heat in the oven for about 5 minutes, so the sauce is absorbed.
Serve immediately with the dip and vegetables.

A few days later, there were only a couple more breasts to go. And why order Bad Chinese, when you can make great General Tso's Chicken at home?

This recipe come's from Mean Chef, and is truly fantastic, better than any take-out. The fact that it is so easy and quick makes it a weeknight no-brainer. Recipe reproduced below, with a couple of my substitutions.

General Tso's Chicken Recipe

1 lb chicken thighs, boned and cubed
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup cornstarch, plus
2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 bunch green onions, chopped

2 tablespoons rice wine
1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons garlic-chile paste
sirracha, a judicious amount!

In a large bowl, thoroughly blend the 1/2 cup of cornstarch and the eggs; add the chicken and toss to coat.

In a small bowl, prepare the sauce mixture by combining the 2 tsp cornstarch with the wine, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce, garlic-chile paste, and sirracha.

First-Stage Frying: Heat 1-2 inches of peanut oil in a wok to medium-high heat (350-400). Fry the chicken in small batches, just long enough to cook the chicken through. Remove the chicken to absorbent paper and allow to stand (this step can be performed well in advance, along with the sauce mixture, with both refrigerated).

Second-Stage Frying: Leave a tablespoon or two of the oil in the wok. Return the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until the pieces are crispy brown. Add the chopped green onions and the sauce-mixture to the wok, tossing over the heat until the sauce caramelizes into a glaze (1-2 minutes).

Serves 4, along with steamed broccoli (or not, if you're DucCat) and rice.


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