Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Spicy Cashew Chicken

(this is almost a General Tso's chicken with cashews added! so it would still be good if you don't have cashews on hand)
I adapted this from a recipe for "Slow-Cooker Cashew Chicken" that a friend shared on Facebook.  I make mine in a cast-iron Dutch oven, because you have to get a pan dirty anyway to brown the chicken before it goes into the crockpot, and in the Dutch oven it only takes an hour to finish, instead of 3 to 4 in the slow cooker on low. Your choice, but I'd rather eat sooner and only clean one pan.

Parts list:
  • 2 lbs. chicken: I prefer bone-in thighs for the flavor, but you can use boneless, skinless thighs or even boneless, skinless breasts to reduce the fat and not have to fish out bones when you are eating. If you buy breasts, you should probably cut them in half.
  • Cooking oil.
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. to 1 tsp. black pepper, depending on your taste buds
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (original recipe called for half a cup, which was WAY too much)
  • 3 Tbs. ketchup
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons of sweet chili sauce. Do yourself a favor and buy the real stuff in the international aisle.
  • 4 Tbs. vinegar -- rice wine if you have it, but any kind will do
  • 2 to 4 Tbs. brown sugar. Start with 2, then add more if needed after you taste the sauce.
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. (or more) grated fresh ginger
  • 3 "bams" of cayenne pepper, less if you're timid
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup or so of cashews
Put the cornstarch and pepper in a gallon zip-top bag and shake to mix. Add chicken pieces and shake to coat. Set aside.

Put everything else except the cashews into a medium sized bowl and whisk to combine. Taste it to see if you need more sugar, which may depend on what kind of vinegar you used./

 Put enough oil in the dutch oven to cover the bottom about 1/8 inch deep. Add the coated chicken pices and brown on each side, about 3 minutes each but maybe more or less depending on your pan and your burner.

At this point you can dump everything (except the cashews) into a slow cooker and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours. If you don't mind soggy cashews, you could even add them.
Or you can add the onions and the sauce mixture to the Dutch oven, slap a lid on and pop it in the oven for an hour at 300 degrees, which is what I do.

That still gives you plenty of time to make rice, or whatever you want to serve it with. I like couscous or quinoa, or brown rice.

About 10 minutes before the hour is up, add the cup of cashews. If the sauce seems too thin, you can whisk up a tablespoon or two of cornstarch in a quarter cup of cold water and add it to thicken the sauce. Usually enough of the coating will have fallen off the chicken to take care of things.

This makes 4 to 6 servings, mostly depending on what kind of chicken you used and how many pieces there were to start with, plus how hungry everyone is. it is great leftover.

You could easily add more vegetables to this.



About Me

My photo
This is me enjoying a limoncello in Rome on the last night of our trip to Italy. Funny thing is, I don't really like limoncello that much, but thought it would be great in a dessert. And wouldn't you know, The Barefoot Contessa just did a great fruit salad with limoncello. So now I can't. Oh, well.