Tuesday, July 20, 2010

0 Recipe #145: Restaurant-Style, Hot & Spicy, Sweet & Sour Chicken

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Woo-hooooo! I'm incredibly pleased with how this recipe turned out! When I was sampling it during the cooking process, I could tell that it was going to be good. The sauce was really flavorful, the breaded chicken was light & crispy, & the vegetables were tender but still firm & crunchy. It was just one of those evenings where everything seemed to perfectly fall into place during the cooking process.

Erik gave this dish a huge & very enthusiastic thumbs up. In fact, the general household consensus is that this dish is one of the best chicken dishes I've ever created. :) It really tastes authentic, like it came right out of a Chinese restaurant -- I kid you not!

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did tonight!

Restaurant-Style, Hot & Spicy, Sweet & Sour Chicken

Sauce Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c. shallot, finely minced (about 2 large shallots)
1 c. yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 large onion)
1/2 c. baby carrots, sliced crosswise into 1/2" rounds (about 6 baby carrots)
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled & diced (about 1" piece)
2 1/2 c. rhubarb, sliced crosswise into 1/2" pieces (about 5 stalks)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
1/2 tsp. red chili pepper flakes
1/2 c. sweet vermouth
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp.freshly squeezed lime juice
2 c. pineapple juice
1 c. water

Breaded Chicken Ingredients:
2 eggs
1 lb. chicken, washed, defatted, & tenderized with a meat mallet
1 c. corn starch
6 Tbsp. (3/8 c.) sesame seed oil

Stir Fry Ingredients:
2 c. red bell peppers, seeded & diced into 1/2" squares (about 1 1/2 pepper)
2 c. green bell pepper, seeded & diced into 1/1" squares (about 1 1/2 pepper)
2 c. pineapple, diced into 1/2" cubes
2 tsp. salt

Directions: Sauté shallots, onions, & carrots in olive oil in a medium-sized sauce pot on low heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add ginger & rhubarb, season with (1/2 tsp.) salt, ground white pepper, & red chili pepper flakes, & then immediately deglaze with vermouth. Add vinegar, honey, lime juice, pineapple juice, & water, turn up heat to medium, & cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables have become tender & the liquid contents have been reduced by about half their volume. Stir occasionally to keep sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

While sauce is cooking, prepare chicken: Wash & defat chicken, removing tendons, & place on a clean, non-porous surface. Cover with plastic wrap & tenderize, pounding with the bumpy, textured end of a meat mallet until 1/8" thick. Cut chicken into approximately 2 square inch pieces & set aside. Crack eggs into a bowl & beat together using a fork or whisk. Dip chicken into egg mixture, coating both sides & place pieces into a plastic Ziploc bag filled with corn starch. Seal bag & shake to coat chicken. Remove chicken pieces from bag, shaking off excess corn starch, & place in a bowl or a large plate.

When ready, remove sauce from heat & let cool. Transfer to a blender & pulse sauce until smooth. Set aside.

Next, heat sesame seed oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Place chicken into the pan & cook until breaded exterior turns golden brown on both sides. (You might need to cook the chicken in two separate batches, using 3 Tbsp. sesame oil for each batch.) Add red & green peppers & pineapple chunks, season with (2 tsp.) salt, & cook for another 30-45 seconds (to slightly soften peppers) before adding sauce. (Do not let fruit & vegetables brown.) Pour in just enough sauce so that it just covers the chicken. Fold sauce into chicken & vegetables to cover them completely. Cook for just a few more minutes, until vegetables are tender but still crunchy. Stir occasionally. Do not let chicken linger in the sauce for too long or it will become soggy. Remove from heat. Divide into equal portions, & serve immediately.

Serving Suggestions: This dish tastes particularly good topped with soy sauce &/or sesame seeds.

Yield: Serves 4-6.

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