Peri Peri Chicken

June 10, 2015

The funny name, which comes from the African Piri Piri pepper, made this recipe very fun for my kids. Chris Kimball’s version of Peri Peri chicken uses Arbol Chiles, which are much easier to find, and marries with a traditional two-level barbecue technique. He further slows the cooking by using tap water in a disposable aluminum pan to help moderate the temperature of the cool-side of the grill.  The recipe’s varied list of ingredients made me skeptical; peanuts, chiles, five spice powder and lemon. But in the end, the flavors meld into a deliciously unique barbecued chicken. Unfortunately, I relied too heavily on the clock and stepped away from the grill with the chicken over the hot-side of the grill; which resulted in too much of a char. While this was only a 4-star execution, it’s a 4.5 star recipe; for its deep, complex richness.

Delicious; even if a little over charred

Delicious; even if a little over charred

While the recipe requires refrigerating chicken overnight with the paste applied, it makes the actual day of the barbecue very easy. You essentially do all the preparation the night before. Chris Kimball’s Yankee palate has influenced the recipe by providing a wide range of chiles; from 4 to 10. Today, I only used 4 because I was worried about my two sons. Next time I will use 7, because 4 chiles was quite mild.


  1. Flare ups during Step 6 overly charred my chicken. It was my fault, because I walked away from the grill for a few minutes. The charring will happen much faster than you think; so don’t leave the chicken unattended even for a minute during Step 6.
  2. If you are using a gas grill; pre-heat the grill for 15 minutes with all burners on high. When ready to cook chicken primary burner to medium-high and turn off all other burners. Use two disposable pie plate; each filled with 1-1/2 cups of water; directly placed on 1 of the gas burners (opposite to the primary burner).

Rating: 4-to-4.5 stars.
Cost: $10.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:00 PM. Ready at 5:50 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. My descriptions of how I prepare it are given below:

8 garlic cloves
1 shallot
4 to 10 arbol chiles
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon five-spice powder
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup juice (2 lemons)
1 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves, crushed
6-lbs bone-in chicken pieces (breasts, thighs, and/or drumsticks)
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1 large disposable aluminum pan (13″x9″)
Lemon wedges

  1. Peel 8 cloves of garlic and 1 shallot; roughly chop and add to blender. Also add to blender: 4 arbols, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons salt, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon five-spice powder, 2 teaspoons lemon zest, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, and crumble 3 bay leaves.
  2. Process for 10 to 20 seconds until smooth. Taste the paste and add up to 6 more chiles; spice level will be hotter as paste than on chicken.
  3. Finely chop peanuts and add to a large bowl (I mixed some paste with the peanuts to prevent the nuts from flying everywhere as I chopped them). Also add the paste to bowl and stir to combine.
  4. Using a metal skewer to poke skin side of each chicken piece between 8 and 10 times. Add chicken to large bowl and toss until chicken is evenly coated with paste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for between 6 hours and 24 hours.
  5. When you are ready to grill, open the bottom vents halfway and set a disposable aluminum pan filled with 3 cups of water on 1 side of the grill. Ignite a chimney starter filled with charcoal (about 6 quarts). After 25 minutes when the upper-most coals are partially covered with ask, evenly empty the coals on the side of the grill opposite the pan of water. Replace the grill grate, cover, and open the lid vent half-way. Pre-heat grill for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the cooking grate.
  6. Put the chicken with skin-side down over the hot side of the grill and cook for between 2 and 5 minutes until brown and blistering in spots. Flip chicken and continue to cook the second side for 4 to 6 minutes until the second side in browned.
  7. Move chicken with the skin-side up to the cool-side of grill; with the legs and thighs closer to the fire and the breasts further away. Set cover so that lid vent is directly over the chicken. Cook for between 50 to 60 minutes until white meat registers 160-degrees and dark meat registers 175-degrees.
  8. As the individual pieces of chicken come up to temperature remove them to a serving platter and tent with aluminum foil; allowing to rest for 10 minutes before serving. Pass separately with lemon wedges.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

May 5, 2015

When I was looking to make Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad, I realized that I only had this very old post.  So I wanted to update the recipe using Chris Kimball’s most recent recipes and techniques. To prevent the boneless chicken breasts from overcooking and drying out, I used dry milk powder to promote a quick char (see his technique here). The Caesar Salad is based upon his best 2011 recipe (but the crouton portion of that recipe was a failure. Unfortunately, today I used store-bought croutons). Overall, the recipe was great. 4-stars. I slightly under-dressed the salad. The biggest problem was that over-sized breasts were too thick and the char-to-meat ratio left the chicken slightly under-flavored.  I modified the recipe below to solve that problem next time I make this recipe (this makes for a great summer weeknight dinner)

Light and simple

Light and simple


  1. Next time, I will pound the chicken so that the thickest part of the breasts measures about 3/4-inch thick. The larger surface area will allow for more of a char, offering better flavor. When I cubed the thick part of the chicken, it was so thick that only one side of the chicken cubes had a char. Pounding it thin should double the amount of flavor in the chicken.
  2. I might also try boneless chicken thighs, which I have been using lately in lieu of breasts. They not only have more flavor, but are more forgiving in terms of overcooking. They are also naturally thinner.
  3. Often times people are afraid to eat raw egg yolks; but there is no way around it in making Caesar salad. One of Chris Kimball’s prior recipe cooks the egg for a scant 45 seconds in boiling water. However, the yolk’s temperature only made it up into the 70’s; I am still eating raw egg. So why bother? It turns out that a USDA study found that only 1 in every 30,000 eggs is contaminated with salmonella, and that most of those are merely contaminated on the outside of the shell. This step helps mitigates that slight risk.

Rating: 4-1/2 stars.
Cost: $7.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 5:30 PM. Ready at 7:00 PM.

Here is the Cook’s Illustrated link to the Ceasar Salad Recipe. Chris Kimball’s grilled chicken recipe is here.  My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

Chicken Ingredients:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or three smaller breasts)
1/4 cup table salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Non-stick vegetable oil spray

  1. Trim the chicken breasts to remove any excess fat or skin. Pound the thicken part of the chicken so that the entire chicken is a consistent 3/4-to-1-inch thick. In a large bowl, whisk together 1/4-cup table salt and 1/4-cup sugar with 1-1/2 quarts of cold water. Add chicken to brine, cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for an hour (or until the coals are ready; i.e. step 5).
  2. After chicken has been brining for 30 minutes, prepare your charcoal grill by completely opening both the top and bottom vents. Fill a chimney starter so that it is slightly overflowing (mounded) with briquettes and light, which will take about 20 minutes to fully ignite.
  3. Remove the chicken from the brine, and use paper towels to pat it dry. Combine 2 teaspoons milk powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl and evenly sprinkle each side with half the milk powder, spraying each side with nonstick cooking spray to moisten the powdered milk.
  4. When the coals are ready, create a two level fire by emptying 2/3rds on half the grill, and the remaining 1/3rd over the other half of the grill. Pre-heat grate for 5 minutes then clean a rub with paper-towel dipped in vegetable oil.
  5. Put chicken with the skin-side down directly over the hottest side of the grill. Grill for 2-1/2 minutes, then flip chicken (leaving on the hot side) cooking the second side for another 2-1/2 minutes. Flip the chicken again (skin-side down) but over the cool-side of the grill; another approximately 15 minutes.
  6. Remove the chicken from when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 160-degrees. Allow chicken to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes before serving. When ready to top chicken, you can either slice or cube the chicken.

Caesar Salad:
1 large clove garlic
3 tablespoons Lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 anchovy fillets
2 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons canola oil
5 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2-1/2 romaine hearts

  1. Rip the romaine into 3/4″ pieces; then rinse and dry in a salad spinner.
  2. Peel garlic cloves. Press directly into a large bowl, and add lemon juice and allow to stand for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, minced the anchovies and use a fork to mash to form a paste (should have just under 1 teaspoon of paste). Grate the Parmesan cheese and set aside.
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce, minced anchovies, and 2 egg yolks into garlic/lemon juice mixture. Whisk until it is combined.
  5. While whisking constantly, slowly pour the canola oil and olive oil into the bowl. Whisk until the dressing has become fully emulsified. Finally, whisk in 1/2-cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  6. Add romaine lettuce to bowl and toss until the dressing is evenly coating the lettuce. Add croutons and gently mix gently.
  7. Slice the chicken crosswise into 1/2″-thick slices, or cube chicken into 1/2″ to 3/4″ cubes.
  8. Serve salad immediately on individual plates or bowls, then add sliced chicken breast on top of each salad.
  9. Pass the remaining Parmesan cheese separately.

Coq au Riesling

May 2, 2015

One of my all-time favorite recipes is Coq au Vin, with its deep, rich sauce; almost a demi-glace. Today’s recipe took an hour less than a standard, red-wine-based Coq au Vin, but I was skeptical when Chris Kimball lightened up its hallmark sauce using a white Riesling. The recipe resulted in great, well-balanced flavor. However, the sauce was a little too subtle; not bold or luxurious. Also, there was not enough chicken in the final dish; by the time I trimmed down my 5-lb whole chicken it was closer to 2-1/2 lbs of bone-in chicken. Given that the two recipes cost the same to make, I would choose the original Coq au Vin (even with the extra hour of cooking time). Overall, 4-stars; today’s recipe makes for an enjoyable meal.

Delicious, but I prefer Coq au Vin

Delicious, but I prefer Coq au Vin


  1. Using a 5-lb whole chicken left just over 2-1/2 lbs of bone-in chicken. Next time I think I will use 4-to-5-lbs of pre-cut chicken thighs. Because the pre-cut chicken would not provide me the back and wings (key to the recipe), I could still use some of the chicken trimmings that I always have in my freezer (for making chicken stock).
  2. The cooking times listed in the recipe were understated across the board. For example, browning the skin took 20 minutes, and browning mushrooms took 15 minutes.
  3. While the recipe calls for crème fraîche; I substituted a mixture of 50% sour cream and 50% heavy cream. There are a couple of variations of the substitution here.
  4. Chris Kimball suggests serving with buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

The recipe calls for “dry Riesling”. Unfortunately, I discovered that the term “dry Riesling” did not help me to select the right bottle in my local wine shop.  I ended up selecting my bottle because it had 11.5% alcohol. You should go wine shopping armed with the following advice from Chris Kimball on how to select the proper bottle:

  1. Chris Kimball says that Austrian Rieslings are a safe bet; as most are dry. In my store, every single bottle of Riesling was German.
  2. He says to look for the word “trocken,” which means dry. Again, not a single bottle had the work “trocken”
  3. I did see that on the back label of some Rieslings there was a sliding scale indicating where the wine falls on the dry-sweet spectrum. but the few bottles that had the scale were all sweet.
  4. Finally, he says to look for Riesling that has 11% alcohol or above. The higher the alcohol level, the drier the wine. I found a $10 bottle that had 11.5% alcohol. The recipe left we with a glass to drink and it was indeed not a typically syrupy Riesling.
  5. Chris Kimball’s last alternative is to use a Sauvignon Blanc or Chablis. He specifically says to avoid Chardonnay, which will turn bitter as it reduces.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $19.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 3:45 PM. Ready at 6:00 PM.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  My descriptions of how I prepare it today are given below:

5-pound whole chicken,
Salt and pepper
2 slices bacon
3 shallots, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped coarse
2 celery ribs, chopped coarse
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2-1/2 cups dry Riesling (leaving 1 glass to drink)
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs fresh parsley, plus 2 teaspoons minced
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 pound white mushrooms
1/4 cup crème fraîche

  1. Break down your chicken, removing the into its major components, setting aside the wings and back (and the little bag that comes inside the chicken). Cut each breast in half; so you should be left with a total of 8 pieces (4 breast pieces, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs). Remove the skin from chicken breast pieces, drumsticks, and thighs; setting aside to use in Step 3.
  2. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with a total of 1-1/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; set aside until Step 7.
  3. Chop bacon. Set a large Dutch oven over medium-low burner, add bacon and stir occasionally until it begins to render the fat, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken skin, back, and wings to pot, and increase burner to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, for 12 to 15 minutes. Mine took 20 minutes before the bacon browned. The skin should also have rendered it’s fat and the chicken back and wings should be browned on all sides.
  4. Meanwhile peel and chop your shallots. Peel and coarsely chop your carrots. coarsely chop the celery. Peel and smash your garlic (no need to mince or press your garlic).
  5. Temporarily remove the pot from burner and remove and reserve 2 tablespoons of the fat to small bowl; set aside until Step 10.
  6. Return pot to burner (still medium). Add chopped shallots, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, stir occasionally, until the vegetables become softened. Add 3 tablespoons flour and cook and stir for 30 seconds. Slowly add wine and deglaze the pan, using a metal spatula.
  7. Increase burner to high and simmer for 2 minutes until it slightly thickened. Add 1 cup water, 2 bay leaves, 6 parsley sprigs, and 6 thyme sprigs, and bring up to a simmer. Set chicken pieces in an even layer in pot. Turn down burner to low, cover pot, and cook for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Remove the chicken pieces as each piece comes up to temperature; i.e. the breasts measure 160 degrees and thighs and legs register 175 degrees.
  8. While the chicken cooks prepare your mushrooms by trimming the stems. Cut small mushrooms in half and quarter any large mushrooms.
  9. Fish out and discard the back and wings. Empty the pot into a fine-mesh strainer set over a large bowl. Press down on the solids to remove as much liquid as possible. Allow to settle for 10 minutes, then use a wide spoon to remove and discard any surface fat.
  10. Meanwhile while the liquid settles, put the now-empty pot over medium burner. Add the fat reserved in Step 5, cut mushrooms, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook and stir occasionally for 10 minutes until lightly browned (mine took 16 minutes because they release so much liquid that they wouldn’t brown)
  11. Return the cooking liquid to the bot and bring up to a boil. Reduce burner to maintain a brisk simmer for 5 to 6 minutes until the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, stir occasionally.
  12. Turn down burner to medium low. Add in crème fraîche and minced parsley. Stir until combined. Add chicken pieces and any juices from the plate. Cook, covered, for 5 to 8 minutes until the chicken becomes heated through. Adjust salt and pepper according to your taste.
  13. Serve over buttered egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

One-Pan Roast Chicken and Potatoes

February 22, 2015

Simple, delicious meal of chicken and potatoes cooked together in just 1 skillet. The only other cleanup is a cutting board and a small bowl.  But be sure to allocate two hours of mostly unattended cooking time. The flavor was very well-balanced, and the chicken was moist. 4-stars.

Simple to make and clean up

Simple to make and clean up

The timing on the recipe is based upon a very small whole chicken; 1 to 1-1/4 hours and was perfect for a 4-lb chicken. If your chicken is bigger, you will have to reduce the over temperature (and increase cooking time) to prevent the skin from becoming overcooked. I’d suggest 375. Alternatively, you can bake it at 350 for an hour, then increase to 425 until the breast meat registers 160 and the dark meat registers 175.


  1. I also tried to make this recipe using 6 pre-cut thighs. It baked in only 35 minutes. The main drawback was that the thighs had too much skin; while delicious; there was too much fat that rendered. After removing this chicken to rest; discard the extra fat from the pan before finishing the potatoes on the stove top in Step 8.

Rating: 4 stars.
Cost: $5.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Start time: 4:00 PM. Finish time: 6:00 PM.

The Cook’s Country link to the original recipe is here. The recipe as I prepared it today is given below:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus lemon wedges for serving
1 (4-lb) whole chicken, giblets discarded
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes

  1. Set a rack to the lower-middle of your oven, and pre-heat to 400-degrees.
  2. In a very small bowl, add 2 tablespoons oil, thyme, 1-1/2 teaspoons paprika, lemon zest, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry, then use your fingers to separate the skin from the chicken breast. (While the original recipe just calls for loosening over the breasts, I loosened over the legs and thighs too). Rub the oil mixture from Step 2 underneath and on top of the skin of the chicken. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together, and tuck the wingtips behind the back. Set aside
  4. Peel your potatoes and square-off the ends. Slice into 1″-thick-rounds. Add potatoes to a 12″ oven-safe, non-stick skillet. Toss with 1 tablespoon oil, 1-1/2 teaspoons table salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
  5. Arrange potatoes so that they lay flat and in a single layer. Set over medium burner and cook for 7 to 9 minutes without moving or flipping the potatoes, until the bottoms become browned.
  6. Set chicken with the breast-side upward on top of the potatoes and put skillet into oven. Bake for 1 to 1-1/4 hours until the breast meat reaches 160-degrees and the thighs reach 175-degrees.
  7. Move chicken to cutting board and loosely tent with aluminum foil; allowing to rest for 20 minutes.
  8. While the chicken rests, cover the skillet with a lid and continue baking for 20 minutes.
  9. Carve the chicken and serve with potatoes. Pass lemon wedges along side.


Slow-Roasted Chicken Parts with Shallot-Garlic Pan Sauce

December 14, 2014

This new recipe (January/February 2015) looked promising; I’m always looking for new ways to make this staple of our menu new and interesting. The basic premise of the recipe of to quickly brown in a skillet, then to slow-roast in a low, 250-degree oven. The pan sear not only browns the skin, but the fond forms the basis of the sauce. Going against years of recipes, Chris Kimball instructs me not to pat the chicken dry. In this case, it is supposed to allow more flavor to develop for the pan sauce. Unfortunately, the chicken was lackluster. Completely edible, but just an average 3-stars.

Looks great, but only average

Looks great, but only average


  1. I only used leg quarters, which were on sale for $.89/lb. The recipe called for 5-pounds, but by the time I trimmed down the leg quarters I only had 4-pounds. The only real consequence is that I had extra sauce.

Rating: 3 star.
Cost: $9.
How much work? Low/Medium.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Start time: 3:45 PM. End time: 6 PM.

The original Cook’s Illustrated recipe is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

5 pounds bone-in chicken pieces (4 split breasts plus 4 leg quarters)
Kosher salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil

  1. Set a rack to the lowest position in your oven, and a second rack that measure 8″ from the broiler element. Pre-heat oven to 250-degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack in the sheet pan. Trim any excess skin and fat from the bone-in chicken pieces, sprinkle with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and pepper (but do not pat the chicken dry).
  3. Set a 12″ skillet over medium/high burner, add 1/4 teaspoon vegetable oil and pre-heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Put leg quarters with the skin-side-down and cook for a total of 5 to 7 minutes per batch; turning once. The chicken should be golden brown.
  4. Move chicken to prepared sheet pan and arrange so that the legs are all pointing to one side of the sheet.
  5. Pour off any fat from the skillet and add breasts with the skin-side-down and cook for a total of 4 to 6 minutes per batch; turning once. The chicken should be golden brown.
  6. Move chicken to prepared sheet pan and arrange so that the legs are all pointing to one side of the sheet.
  7. Pour off any fat from the skillet, but do not clean. Set chicken on lower rack so that the legs point to the back of the oven. Bake for 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours until the breasts register 155-degrees and the legs register 170-degrees. (While the chicken roasts, begin making the sauce below). Remove from oven and allow the chicken to rest for 10 minutes, and pre-heat broiler.
  8. After resting, move sheet pan to upper rack and broil chicken for 3 to 6 minutes until the skin is well browned and crispy. Serve, passing the sauce separately.

1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
2-1/4 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
4 shallots, sliced thin
6 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons lemon juice

  1. While the chicken roasts, add broth to a bowl and sprinkle 1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin. Allow the gelatin to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. In a separate small bowl, which together the water and corn starch and set aside.
  3. In the skillet that you used to sear the chicken, melt the butter over medium/low burner. Add shallots and garlic, and cook for 6 to 9 minutes until the become brown and crispy.
  4. Add coriander and cook for 30 seconds, then stir in the gelatin mixture. Use the moisture to deglaze the pan, then bring up to a simmer over high burner and reduce for 5 to 7 minutes until you have 1-1/2 cups.
  5. Recombine corn starch mixture with a whisk, then whisk into sauce and simmer for 1 minute until it thickens.
  6. Remove from burner and mix in parsley and lemon juice. Adjust the salt and pepper according to your taste, and cover to keep warm.

Chicken Fingers with General Tso’s Dipping Sauce

October 12, 2014

As a single father, you can be sure that I’ve made quite a few chicken nuggets (see here , here, here, here and here). But in my opinion, the biggest leap forward in chicken nugget evolution came a few years ago when I switched away from breading-based nuggets. I adapted this batter fried chicken recipe and used it to make batter-based nuggets; which has become my go to recipe. But a recent job change means that I simply cannot afford the requisite 1 hour and 15 minutes to make them (and be left with a pretty big mess in the kitchen) on a weeknight. Today’s recipe promises make-ahead convenience without sacrificing the crispness of the final chicken. I was skeptical, but was excited to give them a try. Unfortunately, the recipe yielded barely enough chicken for one meal, so I had nothing left-over (which I was intending to serve for dinner one night and use the left-overs as “make-ahead”). The chicken fingers are solid, 3-1/2 stars. Cooking with such a small amount of oil greatly simplifies clean up. There are a few minor issues (see comments below).

Easy to make and not much of a mess

Easy to make and not much of a mess


  1. While I love the idea of cooking with just 1/4-cup of oil per batch, it simply did not work in my kitchen. My Cook’s-Illustrated-recommended, 12-inch TFal skillet does not have a perfectly flat cooking surface (it’s raised slightly in the middle, pushing the oil to the sides).
  2. The recipe calls for a ridiculously small amount of chicken; just 1-1/2 pounds; enough for a single dinner. I’m not sure why they advertise this recipe as a make-ahead time-saver. I suggest doubling the recipe (The brine is already enough to accommodate 3 pounds of chicken fingers. Increase Panko from to 3 cups. Use 3 eggs; maybe 4).
  3. While the original recipe calls for 2 cups of Panko, there was a lot of leftover. I’ve reduced the amount in the recipe to 1-1/2 cups.
  4. The original recipe called for 3 eggs, but I’ve reduced the recipe to use 2 eggs.

So many Dipping Sauces……

  1. I’ve previously made General Tso’s Chicken. While that recipe wasn’t a perfect replicate of classic General Tso, it was delicious nevertheless. Chris Kimball has finally come out with a General Tso’s recipe, which was the basis from which I adapted it for use as a dipping sauce. My adaptation is at the bottom of this post.
  2. A classic and simple BBQ Dipping Sauce Recipe is here. But it yields more sauce than I usually need, so I would recommend cutting the recipe in half.
  3. I made a delicious Hoisin Sesame Dipping Sauce.
  4. Another sweeter Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce is here. I thought that this sauce was disproportionately sweet (which was okay with my kids).
  5. A spicier version is Spicy Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce. I loved the fresh lime juice in this sauce.
  6. Spicy Orange Dipping Sauce. But beware, the recipe uses a habanero chile, so it was pretty hot.
  7. Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce. Chris Kimball have a basic recipe using only honey and mustard. However, the recipe yields a cup; probably need to use down by at least 50%.
  8. Spicy Jamaican Jerk Dipping Sauce. The recipe yields a lot of sauce. Start by cutting the recipe in half.

Storing and Reheating……

  1. Transfer cooled chicken fingers to zipper-lock freezer bags, press out air, and seal. Freeze for up to 1 month.
  2. Do not thaw before reheating.) Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken fingers on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and bake until heated through and crisp, about 30 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through baking. Serve.
  3. To cook, simply heat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake them until they’re heated through and crisp, about 30 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through cooking.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $4.50.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Low/Medium.
Start time 4:45 PM. Dinner time 5:00 PM.

The Cook’s Illustrated original recipe is here. and was published by CNN here. The General Tso’s Chicken recipe from which I adapted the sauce is here. The recipe as I cooked it today is as follows:

Chicken Fingers Recipe:
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
3/4 cup vegetable oil

  1. Trim chicken and cut lengthwise into 3/4″-wide strips.
  2. In a large bowl, add 2 cups of cold water and dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt. Add chicken fingers to brine, ensure that they are entirely submerged, cover with [plastic wrap and refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, toast the 2 cups of Panko in a 12″ nonstick skillet over medium heat, swirling constantly so that it brown evenly.
  4. Also, prepare 3 shallow dishes as follows: (1) add flour, onion powder, garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper to a pie plate is whisk until combined. (2) lightly beat 3 large eggs, and (3) spread the toasted panko into a third pie plate.
  5. When chicken has finished brining, discard the brine and pat chicken dry using paper towels.
  6. Working in batches, dredge chicken in flour mixture, dip in eggs, then coat with panko, pressing gently to adhere; transfer to large plate.
  7. Put a wire rack set inside a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  8. Wipe of skillet and pre-heat 1/4 cup oil over medium burner until it begins to shimmer. Cook one-third of chicken in skillet for 3 minutes per side until it turns golden brown. Be sure to check the temperature of the larger pieces, as a few of mine didn’t cook to 165-degrees. Transfer to prepared wire rack and they become ready.
  9. Wipe out skillet and repeat shallow frying the remaining batches. Serve immediately and allow the chicken cool for 30 minutes before freezing.

General Tso’s Dipping Sauce Recipe:
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons sugar (or I suggest substituting 2 tablespoons apricot or orange jam)
1 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  1. Combine water, hoisin sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir with a fork until cornstarch is dissolved and no lumps remain. Set aside.
  2. Add oil to a small saucepan. Saute garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes for 1 minute. Add the hoisin mixture, making sure to scrape out and sugar or starch that has sunk to the bottom. Cook, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Transfer sauce to a dipping bowl and serve.

Mahogany Chicken Thighs, Part 2

September 16, 2014

The second try definitely worked out better. While my plan had been to use low-sodium soy sauce, on my way home from the supermarket I realized that I had forgotten to buy it. So I reduced the soy sauce (and therefore the saltiness) by 1/3 cup. The flavors were much more robust when not masked by the extreme saltiness of my first attempt.  Also, I broiled the chicken for just 2 minutes (in Step 8) until the chicken was lightly browned. Even though the chicken was far from the broiler element, it is still amazing how fast this 195-degree chicken will crisp up. This attempt earns a solid 4-stars; flavorful and balanced, easy to make.

Better than the first time

Better than the first time

BTW – Chris Kimball recommends serving this with steamed rice, but because my son had a friend over who loves potatoes, I served it with mashed potatoes. The kids gave the recipe as high as 4-1/2 stars.


  1. Chris Kimball reminds us to trim all visible fat and skin from the underside of the chicken. Tonight I am going to use a combination of thighs and drumsticks, so I’m not sure how I will trim the drumsticks,

Rating: 4-stars.
Cost: $5
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Start time 5:00 PM. Dinner time 6:30 PM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here. The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below:

1-1/2 cups water
2/3 cup soy sauce (or 1 cup low-sodium soy sauce)
1/4 cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
4-lbs bone-in chicken thighs
2″ ginger piece
6 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon cornstarch

  1. Set a rack to the middle of your oven and pre-heat to 300-degrees. Trim away any skin and excess fat from the bottom of the thighs.
  2. In an oven-safe 12″ skillet, whisk together 1 cup water, 3/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup sherry, 2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons molasses, and 1 tablespoon vinegar. Arrange chicken with the skin side down in skillet and soy sauce mixture.  Peel ginger, cut in half and smash. Peel the garlic cloves and smash.
    Nestle the ginger and garlic between the chicken pieces.
  3. Put over medium burner and bring the liquid up to a simmer. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes, then put the skillet into the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes.
  4. Flip chicken skin-side up and continue to bake for another 20 to 30 minutes until the chicken reaches 195-degrees. Remove chicken to serving platter.
  5. Pour cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator. Allow to settle for 5 minutes. Turn over to broil.
  6. In a separate small bowl, whisk corn starch together with 1/2 cup water.
  7. Pour 1 cup of the de-fatted juices into the skillet and bring up to a simmer over medium burner. Whisk in water/corn starch and simmer for 1 minute, until thickened. Pour sauce into serving bowl and set aside.
  8. Put chicken back into skillet and broil for 3 to 4 minutes until well browned. Return chicken to serving platter and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving; passing the sauce separately.

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