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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Honey Garlic Chicken

When I was pregnant I couldn't get enough Chinese food.  There was a restaurant down the street from my office, China Garden, I would order from on the way home some nights, but Chinese food can get expensive when you order for two and one is extremely picky.  Aaron liked the Honey Chicken which came with Pork Fried Rice, but he only ate the chicken, wasting all that scrumptious rice.  If I was given a choice I would usually order either the Chicken with Broccoli (spicy because they do that for me there) or the Steamed Chicken and Shrimp with Broccoli, also spicy (from the diet menu it comes with garlic sauce on the side and steamed rice), but they're both also a bit pricey and since Aaron will only eat the honey chicken and waste all that rice I sacrificed a little.  I ordered his honey chicken, but with the chicken and rice in separate containers (which by the way also guarantees extra chicken because they use the same size container as before but they almost completely fill it with chicken) and I would eat the rice while he ate the chicken.  If I was really hungry I would order some Chicken Sticks (you know, those ridiculously well marinated chicken thighs they stick on a skewer) and Aaron might get some Crab Rangoon.

I've been craving some really good Chinese food for ages now.  Actually, I think I've only had it twice since Bailey was born and it wasn't spectacular either time.  Aaron doesn't crave it like I do, but he does miss that chicken (since we almost never eat out anymore and we moved across town from China Garden) and every once in a while he will say something about it.

Tonight I stumbled upon the recipe for it.  I found it on Pinterest, pinned over and over by my friends.  I put it on the menu because the picture looked pretty and it didn't involve any ingredients that Aaron won't eat.  The sauce is almost spot on.  It's a little spicier than the honey chicken at China Garden, but we like a little spicy.  The chicken itself was easy to put together and is spicy (literally, lots of spices in the dredge) and crunchy and juicy all by on its own.  Combining the almost perfect chicken with the almost perfect sauce created an almost perfect meal.  In fact, all I could ask for was some rice to go with it.  Aaron took one bite, went back to the kitchen for more sauce, and then turned and said, "Put it on next month's menu... Mom and Dad need to taste this."  I was quite pleased.

Barry from Rock Recipes says that the recipe for the dredge will make 8 chicken breasts.  I only did 2.  He also said that the dredge would keep in the freezer for another use so I made a half recipe and still had half leftover to use next time... and I will be making this again.

I'm posting this almost as it is on his blog with only a few tiny exceptions.  That means the flour mixture will be enough for 8 chicken breasts.  I am aware that I am in the minority cooking for 2 (2 1/2) so I thought I'd make it easier on my readers who are probably feeding a family of 4.  Remember that you will have flour mixture leftover; freeze it!  All other ingredients should be to scale for 4 servings.

Honey Garlic Chicken

4 chicken breasts, either pounded to 1/2 inch thick or sliced in half horizontally (I slice them in half)
vegetable oil for frying

For the dredge:
2 cups flour
3 Tbsp ground ginger
2 Tbsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp ground sage
2 tsp ground thyme
*1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (the original said 1 tsp but I felt that was a bit much so I cut it in half and it was just perfect for us)

For the egg wash:
2 eggs
1/4 cup water
I feel I should add that the original recipe called for twice as much.  I cut that in half and still had probably a whole egg leftover so I think this will be sufficient for 4 chicken breasts.

For the sauce:
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Start by making the dredge.  Measure all of the ingredients in a food storage container.  You could use a Ziploc bag if you prefer.  Mix the ingredients until everything is well combined (I like to shake it up) and set it aside.

In a wide, shallow bowl combine the eggs and water and mix well with a fork.  Set it aside.

In a very small sauce pan heat the oil over medium heat.  When the oil is fairly warm add the garlic and cook about 1 minute.  Add the honey, soy sauce, and pepper and mix well.  Heat the sauce on medium low for about 5-10 minutes, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool a bit.

While the sauce is cooking you can start on the chicken.  Pour about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet and heat on medium-medium low.  Pour some of the flour mixture into another wide, shallow bowl.  Once the oil is heated coat one piece of chicken in the flour mixture, then in the egg, then again in the flour mixture, pressing it into the meat so it sticks well.  Place the chicken into the pan to fry.  Repeat the process for the rest of the chicken.  If you run out of dredge in your bowl just add a little more from your container as you need it.  Do this in batches if your skillet isn't big enough for all of your chicken.  Mine can only fit 2 pieces at a time.

Fry the chicken for about 4-5 minutes on each side.  Since it is pounded thin (or sliced) it will cook quickly, but watch the oil because if it is too hot the breading will burn before the chicken is cooked through.

Once the chicken is done transfer it to a plate lined with paper towels.

To serve place a piece of chicken on the plate and drizzle the sauce over the top with a spoon.  Don't skimp on the sauce, it's fantastic!

We had fried okra and creamy, cheesy potatoes with it, but I think it would knock my socks off with some fried rice with veggies and egg.

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