Thursday, April 15, 2010

Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but there aren’t too many chicken recipes on this site. It’s not a coincidence. Stan and I have been on something of an anti-chicken bender for the last six months or so. It’s not for political or environmental reasons, and we’re clearly not vegetarians. For whatever reason, we just decided we didn’t love the taste of chicken anymore. We still eat it every couple of weeks, but it’s not our favorite.

This recipe, however, might just rekindle our affection for chicken. It is that good. I decided to give it a try based purely on its name: caramelized black pepper chicken. Stan loves black pepper, and I love anything caramelized. Paired with the fact that it’s a quick and easy recipe, it made this week’s dinner menu. And we’re glad it did. It’s a simple dish with complex flavor. Tender chunks of chicken are bathed in a sauce that is sweet, salty, spicy, and savory. Served over rice with a side of green beans, broccoli, or sugar snap peas, it is the perfect weeknight meal.

Caramelized Black Pepper Chicken
Adapted from Food and Wine

** Note: I made an extra half a batch of this recipe and found it to be the right amount for 4 people. However, since not everyone eats as much as we do, I’m giving the original ingredient amounts.

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup water
3 T. rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
2 fresh Thai chiles, halved, or 2 whole dried red chiles (I used dry chiles)
1 T. canola oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
Cilantro, for garnish

In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, fish sauce, water, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger, pepper, and chiles. Whisk to dissolve the sugar.

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.

Increase the heat to high and add the sauce mixture and the chicken pieces.

Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce thickens and caramelizes, about 10 minutes. (You will need to stir more frequently towards the end to make sure the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.)

Transfer the chicken to a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve hot.

Serves 4.

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