One weekend afternoon a couple of years ago I was playing around with the fryer, as one does. I wanted something crunchy and delicious for lunch, but I’d been messing about with General Tso’s recipes for a week or more and didn’t really want another plate. So, I raided the fridge.
As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up with Mexican food obsessed parents. My dad grew up in Southern Arizona, and to him, those were the flavors of home. That means we always the had staples of Mexican cuisine in our fridge as a kid, and it means I still do now. I got it in my head that I could make a dish that was for all intents and purposes, a Mexican version of General Tso’s.
I deboned, chopped, and marinated the chicken. I whipped up a sauce that was a mishmash of Chinese technique and Mexican spices such as chipotle, lime, and cumin. Then I waited.
Coming out of the fryer, even without the sauce, the little nuggets of chipotle scented fried chicken were delicious, but the sauce, the sauce made it all that much more. The end result was spicy, hot, sweet, crunch, sour … everything I was looking for in a hot mess of Mexican/Chinese Takeout mashup. So next time you’re wondering “should I have Chinese, or Mexican tonight?” you won’t have to choose.
The Generalissimo’s ChickenCourse: MainCuisine: Mexican, FusionDifficulty: Medium
4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp chipotle powder
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp buttermilk or yogurt
1 cup AP Flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp chicken stock
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp lime zest
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
1 tbsp sliced green onion
- In a non-reactive bowl, mix cornstarch, lime juice, chili powder, and buttermilk into a smooth batter.
- Cut chicken into 1-to-2-inch pieces. Add to the batter, tossing and massaging the mixture to coat the chicken completely.
- Allow the chicken to rest in the marinade at least 20 minutes (2 minutes).
- Bread and Fry The Chicken
- Mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking powder in a covered container.
- Give the marinade-soaked chicken a good stir to recoat any pieces.
- Using a single hand (keeping a “wet” and a “dry” hand makes the process much easier and cleaner), drop a few pieces at a time into the breading mixture and cover, shaking vigorously to coat well.
- Remove the pieces with your “dry” hand.
- Set the breaded pieces on rack in a sheet pan and continue to bread all remaining pieces.
- Put the sheet pan in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the breading to hydrate.
- Fry at 375° until browned. Remove to drain, and cool to room temperature.
- Immediately before service, fry for a second time at 375° for about 2 minutes to crisp and finish.
- Prepare The Sauce, Finish, and Serve
- Add stock, ketchup, vinegar, sugar, chili powder, cumin, and garlic to a pan, and bring to a simmer.
- Combine cornstarch and water.
- Add the cornstarch mixture to the simmering sauce, whisking to combine, and cook until slightly thickened.
- Add lime zest, and mix into the sauce.
- To serve, toss with freshly fried chicken pieces to coat, (optionally, also with sesame seeds and green onion).
- Serve with lime wedges.
Be sure to check out my other food project, The Weekly Menu!