Secret Sesame Chicken
by Missy Chase Lapine
When we want to pig out on a Sunday night with Chinese take-out, we get mounds of deep-fried, sweet-and-sour sesame chicken. Duplicating the flavor and crunch of this outrageously fattening dish was quite a challenge, but after some trial and error I finally came really close with this surprisingly easy-to-make recipe.
Makes 4 servings
11⁄2 cups Sweet and Sour Sauce, see below
1⁄2 cup sesame seeds
1⁄8 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders, or boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish with oil. Spread half the sweet and sour sauce on the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Pour the sesame seeds on a plate, along with the salt and freshly ground pepper. Press the chicken pieces on the plate, coating each piece evenly with sesame seeds. Gently lay the chicken pieces on the baking dish and cover with the remaining sauce. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes; until chicken is cooked through (no need to flip).
Serve over brown rice.
Sweet and Sour Sauce
Makes about 1 cup of sauce
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1⁄2 cups Orange Puree (see Make-Ahead Recipe below)
1⁄4 cup pomegranate juice
4 teaspoons cider vinegar
1⁄2 to 3⁄4 teaspoon cayenne
2 teaspoons ground ginger
Optional extra boost: 1⁄2 cup pineapple chunks
Whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, Orange Puree, pomegranate juice, vinegar, cayenne, and ginger. Mix in the pineapple chunks, if using. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 medium to large carrots, peeled and sliced into thick chunks
2 to 3 tablespoons water
In a medium-sized pot, cover the sweet potatoes and carrots with cold water and boil for about 20 minutes, until carrots are very tender. If the carrots aren’t thoroughly cooked, they’ll leave telltale little nuggets of vegetables in recipes, which will reveal their presence—a gigantic no-no for the Sneaky Chef.
Drain the sweet potatoes and carrots and put them in the food processor with two tablespoons of water. Puree on high until smooth; no pieces of carrots or potatoes should remain. Stop occasionally to push the contents to the bottom. If necessary, use another tablespoon of water to smooth out the puree, but the less water, the better.
This recipe makes about 2 cups of puree; double it if you want to store another 2 cups. It will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or you can freeze 1⁄4-cup portions in sealed plastic bags or small plastic containers.
Missy Chase Lapine is the former publisher of Eating Well magazine. A mother of two young daughters, she knows how picky kids can be—and she’s got the kitchen experiments to prove it! She is on the Culinary Arts facility of The New School, in New York City, and also gives cooking classes and coaching to busy families hoping to learn how to eat healthier. Her book, The Sneaky Chef, is published by Running Press. Her next book The Sneaky Chef: How to Cheat on Your Man (In the Kitchen) will be out in April 2008. You can learn more about Missy at her website, www.thesneakychef.com