Sunday, June 01, 2008

General Tso's Chicken

This is one of those dishes that I make when I want to impress company, or when I want a favor from someone I know :) It's also the one meal my husband and kids ask me to make most often. Sure, it's a bit time consuming, but once you get the process down you can really get it done in under an hour. On days when I'm really in the mood to spend the day in kitchen (honest, I have lots of days like that!), I serve this with homemade egg rolls and fried rice. Other days I send hubby over to the take-out place down the street for those sides (hey, as Pioneer Woman would say, I'm just keeping it real here). Fresh steamed broccoli also goes well with this, but in all honesty, you don't have to stick to traditional sides... serve it with some rice-a-roni if you like.

Here's the recipe to serve 6:

3 Tbs cornstarch
3 large eggs
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
oil or shortening for deep frying

Heat oil in deep fryer (I use a deep electric skillet with enough oil to cover the chicken pieces) to 275ºF. If you're using boneless breasts, cut each breast half into 2 or 3 large pieces, pounding the thicker pieces out a bit so all the pieces will cook evenly. You can leave boneless thighs whole.

Whisk the cornstarch and eggs together to make batter. The batter will be very thin, only slightly thicker than the beaten eggs alone. Dip each chicken piece in the batter and place 3 or 4 at a time in oil. I know you may be thinking that I still haven't caught my mistake on the oil temperature, but it wasn't a mistake (come on now, my typing isn't THAT bad!). Let the chicken cook until the coating just turns white and sets slightly, about 1 minute. Remove the chicken pieces to a paper towel lined plate. They should look like this:

This is called velveting the chicken. You can skip this step if you're pressed for time or if you're just feeling lazy that day, but it really does help keep the chicken (especially the breast meat) from getting tough.

Once all the chicken pieces are done, increase the heat to 375ºF (ahh THERE'S the temp you were looking for earlier!). It's going to take that oil a bit to come up to temperature, so while we're waiting let's make the sauce.

3 Tbs cornstarch
3 Tbs sugar
2 1/2 Tbs rice vinegar
3/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 Tbs chile garlic sauce (or to taste)
1 bunch green onions (white and green parts) chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger root
4-16 small dried red chile peppers(keep whole)
2-3 Tbs honey
2-3 Tbs sweet and sour sauce

In a medium mixing bowl, combine cornstarch through chili garlic sauce, mixing well. The sauce will be cloudy.

In a large frying pan or wok, heat about 1 Tbs of oil over medium heat. Saute the dried chiles until the start to blacken. Add the chopped ginger, garlic and green onions and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir the sauce mixture again, and then add to the pan, stirring constantly. The sauce will start out cloudy:

But as it cooks, it will thicken and become a bit translucent, looking more like the General Tso's sauce you're familiar with:

Once this happens, add the honey and sweet and sour sauce to taste (you can also adjust the heat at this point by adding more chili garlic sauce), turn the heat off and go back to the chicken. Fry the chicken pieces in hot oil until golden brown, about 2 or 3 minutes more.

Once all of the chicken is browned, add it to the sauce. Return the pan to medium low heat and simmer the chicken in the sauce about 5 minutes.

Serve each chicken piece with a spoonful of sauce... and if you really want to mess with your kids... some chopsticks :)

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:17 AM

    the photos are great.
    velveting the chicken. Never heard of that before, but it is a great tip :)
    amazing meal.