You realize that The Goddess thinks about food and food preparation all the time. It’s sort of an obsession. She’s not normal, I tell ya’. She’s always pondering about the “what if’s” and the “why for’s”, the culinary road less, or not at all traveled! Recently, Chinese food has been on her mind; she was thinking about Kung Pao Chicken. That’s what prompted this culinary adventure. The Goddess absolutely, hands-down loves, loves, loves Chinese food. She’s never really met an ethnic food she doesn’t like, but Chinese food has always been a favorite. From the first time she ate the real deal in Toronto’s Chinatown, another shared experience with The Latin Lover, she has loved Chinese food! The Goddess adores Kung Pao chicken (or shrimp). The flavor, the crunch of the vegetables and the peanuts, the caramel-y aspect of the sauce, that bit of heat…It’s yummy stuff. I think this impending move to Florida has pushed her over the edge a tad and as any of you who know her, you know she had one foot there already. She’s been thinking outside the take-out box a bit; she got it into her head that instead of dicing everything up, why not leave those thighs whole? Why not roast them? So, she did just that. Are you seeing the road and its lack of travelers yet?
Enough rambling (you get the reference to the “road”, right?) and onto the marinade. Just mix all the marinade ingredients together, plop in the thighs and let ’em sit. I let these thighs bathe for about 45 minutes. Overnight would be about perfect. For this sort of thing, I like to use a big skillet that can go from the oven right to the burner for the veggies and the sauce. If you don’t have such a skillet (or everyday pan, I think they call them), get one…about 12-14 inches is great size. I had about 5 pounds of thighs, so they were a little cozier than I would have preferred, but they worked. I baked them in a hot oven, removed them to a platter, when they were done. Drain off the drippings, remove the fat and sauté the vegetables. Begin with the carrots, then add the other veggies from there. Remember that the skillet handle is HOT!!! Add the skimmed dripping back into the skillet along with the “sauce”, cook until thickened and “Let’s eat!” That’s all there is to it really. You cook the rice while the chicken bakes and it’s pretty much a one-pot meal.
Roasted Kung Pao Chicken Thighs with Stir-Fried Vegetables
- For the Marinade:
- 2 tablespoons sweet soy sauce (available in good Asian markets)
- 2 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing)
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons frozen orange juice concentrate
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
- 5 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- For the Sauce:
- 1/4 cup Chinese black vinegar (or balsamic)
- 3 tablespoons Chinese rice wine (Shaoxing)
- 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
- 1-2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste (or more if you want extra heat)
- Reserved pan drippings, skimmed of oil (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons arrowroot
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Stir-Fry Vegetables:
- 2 tablespoons reserved fat from the chicken
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced about 1/4-inch thick on the diagonal
- 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
- 1 bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch wide slivers
- 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch wide slivers
- 2 celery ribs, sliced about 1/4-inch thick on the diagonal
- 4-10 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (optional, but very good)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
- 1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts or cashews (or more, if you like)
- Perfect White Rice cooked with 3 tablespoons julienned ginger root
In a bowl large enough to hold the chicken thighs, combine the marinade ingredients. Add the thighs, turning to coat both sides. Cover and marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight in the fridge.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Remove from the fridge and place the thighs close together in an oven-proof skillet, skin-side up. Place the skillet in the oven and roast in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until cooked through.
While the thighs roast, in a small bowl, combine the sauce ingredients, stirring well to incorporate the arrowroot.
Remove the pan from oven, place the chicken on a serving platter; set aside. Pour the pan drippings into a bowl; remove as much fat as possible, reserving 2 tablespoons. Place the skillet on the burner, add the skimmed fat, the carrots and the Szechuan peppercorns. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables (except the scallions and peanuts) and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Give the sauce mixture a good stir, then pour in the sauce mixture and the reserved drippings. Heat until the mixture thickens, about 30 seconds.
Pour the vegetables around the thighs (or place the thighs on top of the vegetables), scatter the scallion slices and peanuts over the chicken and serve with Ginger Rice or noodles.
NOTE: You may use boneless, skinless thighs, but they won’t have as much flavor. Adjust the red pepper flakes according to your heat tolerance. Kung Pao should have a nice kick to it.
Roasted Kung Pao Chicken Thighs with Stir-Fried Vegetables Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2014. All rights reserved.
This turned out to be pretty decent. I made a heap because The Youngest One is around and I wanted leftovers to make something akin to Sticky Rice. I’ll let you know how that goes.
A couple of things—this can be gluten-free if you purchase gluten-free tamari (soy sauce) and oyster sauce. Some of the sauce ingredients are a bit more unusual, but they are available at any decent Chinese market and they are good to have on hand. Also, I added julienned ginger root to the jasmine rice when I put the lid on the pot (see Perfect Rice Every Time which I’m reposting with an update). It was a nice addition, that doesn’t just need to be used with Asian food. So, this is what happens when The Goddess’s mind wanders off. Perhaps, she’ll meet you on in her travels….