Sunday, May 2, 2010

Clay Pot Chicken (Pot not required)

I remember a couple of food trends from when I was growing up. There was the year of the fondue party (in my memory it was instead of a normal Thanksgiving, but that can't be right); the everything-gets-sundried-tomatoes year; the Microwaved Food Revolution year; and there was the year everyone got a Romertopf Clay Pot for Christmas. Except in my family that last one stayed around for a while because of one dish in particular - Clay Pot Chicken. Mom also called it Beggar's Chicken, but I recently discovered that that would normally be a whole chicken covered in clay and roasted. What it has in common with that traditional Chinese dish is the simplicity. This is just marinated chicken served with rice and vegetables, but that marinade - I love it so much I always sneak some spoonfuls before dinner. It's a perfect combination of soy sauce and sherry and sesame oil and spices. I wasn't thinking I'd ever post this recipe, but now I know that you don't even need the clay pot. John prefers the chicken grilled and I'm slowly coming around to agree with him. You can also just skip the chicken and cook the sauce down for a different sort of "teriyaki" sauce to use on everything.

Clay Pot Chicken (pot not required)
serves 4

1 c low sodium soy sauce
1/4 c sherry (in the stores near us you can find this with the vinegar and cooking wine, but don't get sherry vinegar)
1 T sesame oil
1 t Chinese 5 Spice (or substitute a pinch of anise, cloves, cinnamon, and fennel)
1 t white pepper
1 t ground ginger
1 T minced garlic

1 pound chicken - we use boneless thighs, but anything will work
1 t cornstarch
1 t cold water
rice and vegetables of your choice
  • Combine all the ingredients for the marinade together in a ziplock bag or bowl and whisk well to incorporate the powdered spices. 
  • Add the chicken and mix it around so that it is coated in the marinade.
  • Let it sit for at least 30 minutes, but not all day or the chicken may become a little too salty.
  • Meanwhile, start your rice and prep your veggies.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade, reserving the marinade, and grill it however you'd like.
  • While the chicken is cooking, put the marinade in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Bring it to a boil for about 3 to 5 minutes to be sure you've killed any bacteria that may be in there from the raw chicken. If this feels too sketchy (but I promise we do this every time and we don't get sick), make a double batch of the marinade and save half for the sauce. If it seems to have cooked down too much in this step, add a little water.
Optional: Mix the cornstarch and water together in a tiny bowl. Remove from the sauce from the heat and whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Put the sauce back on the heat at low and just let it bubble for a minute or two to activate the cornstarch, stirring often.
  • You can simply steam the veggies in a pan or microwave, but we like to cook them in a little canola oil in a wide, hot frying pan.
  • When the chicken is done, cut it into strips and toss it with the vegetables and a tablespoon or two of sauce.
  • Serve it with rice and more sauce, then add a little more sauce to the sauce - get it?

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