Thursday, March 7, 2013

Guess who's coming to dinner: General Tso

I like this recipe for General Tso's Chicken way better than anything I've ever had in a Chinese restaurant. It is easy to prepare at home with easy-to-find ingredients and it has half the calories and one-fifth the fat of the take-out version.

America's Test Kitchen, the folks who deconstruct recipes and show us how to make them step-by-step in Cook's Illustrated and Cook's Country, made over this recipe for General Tso's. They swapped white chicken breast for the dark meat and a crunchy breading of corn flakes for deep-frying.

My husband does not like Chinese food but he loved this recipe when I made it for dinner. The option to omit red pepper makes it a winner with our 9-year-old as well.

I hope to add photos, but in the interest of sharing this fabulous recipe, I'm posting without.

by America's Test Kitchen

BEFORE: 910 calories, 45g fat, 5g sat fat
AFTER: 490 calories, 8g fat, 1.5g sat fat

America's Test Kitchen says "Swapping the traditional dark meat for white meat was a good start. Moving on to the breading, we started with cornflakes, which gave our chicken an ultra-crisp exterior. After dredging our chicken pieces in flour and dipping them in egg whites, we coated them with our cornflake crumbs and baked them elevated on a wire rack to allow for even crisping all over.
For the sauce, we combined soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, ginger, and garlic; a bit of cornstarch helped to thicken it. Sugar made the sauce taste overly sweet, so we tried swapping in a number of alternatives. In the end, we opted for apricot jam, which added complexity and made our sauce ultra-clingy. Subbing in balsamic vinegar for the white vinegar ensured a good balance of sweet-and-sour notes."

Serves 4

To crush the cornflakes, place them inside a zipper-lock bag and use a rolling pin or the bottom of a large skillet to break them into fine crumbs.
Vegetable oil spray
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large egg whites
5 cups (5 ounces) Kellogg's Corn Flakes cereal, finely crushed
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of all visible fat, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 2/3 cups water
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup apricot jam
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons canola oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 475 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, top with wire rack, and spray rack with oil spray. Spread flour into shallow dish. Whisk egg whites until foamy in second shallow dish. Spread Corn Flakes crumbs into third shallow dish. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working in batches, dredge chicken in flour, dip in egg whites, then coat with Corn Flakes, pressing gently to adhere; lay on prepared wire rack.

2. Spray chicken with oil spray. Bake until chicken registers 160 degrees and coating is brown and crisp, 12 to 15 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, whisk water, soy sauce, apricot jam, hoisin, cornstarch, and vinegar together in bowl. Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in soy sauce mixture, bring to simmer, and cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm.

4. When chicken is cooked, return sauce to simmer over medium-low heat. Add cooked chicken and toss to coat. Serve with rice and steamed broccoli.

Per serving: Cal 490, Fat 8g, Sat Fat 1.5g, Chol 110mg, Carb 62g, Protein 44g, Fiber 2g, Sodium 1410mg

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