Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Sesame-Coated Chicken with Broccoli

Although generally I prefer authentic Chinese food, when I'm in the mood for the Americanized version, sesame chicken is one of my most common choices. Although it still hits the spot, the older I get, the less interested I am in the super-sweet, MSG-laden electric orange version, so I quite often prefer to make my own at home. Although it doesn't have quite the crunch that the deep-fried restaurant version can provide, I was pleasantly surprised by how crunchy and flavorful the coating turned out to be using just a scant amount of flour, sesame seeds, and a modest portion of oil. Combined with fresh and crunchy broccoli and a mildly spicy, savory sauce this makes for a treat of a meal that won't leave you regretting it the next day (though you still may find yourself searching for leftovers in the middle of the night). Left to my own devices I'd at least double the amount of crushed red pepper, but when sharing with a more spice-cautious companion like my husband, this recipe is just right as is. Coming together in less time that it takes for Chinese to arrive at your doorstep, this recipe is the perfect choice next time you're craving takeout.

Sesame-Coated Chicken with Broccoli 
from Food and Wine
serves 4

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1/4 cup sesame seeds, preferably unhulled
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 pound broccoli, stems peeled and cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds, tops cut into florets
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
Steamed rice, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large bowl, season the chicken with salt and pepper, and toss with flour to coat thoroughly. Let the chicken stand for a few minutes, until the coating gets soggy. Pour 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over the chicken and toss to coat, then coat the chicken with the sesame seeds.

2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the chicken in an even layer and cook over high heat, undisturbed, until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook until browned on the second side, about 2 minutes. With tongs, transfer the chicken to a rimmed baking sheet and put it in the oven while you finish the dish.

3. In the oil remaining in the skillet, cook the ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper over moderately high heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and boil over high heat until reduced by half, about 4 minutes. Add the broccoli, cover and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the oyster sauce, season with salt and remove from the heat. Gently stir in the chicken and sesame oil and serve with steamed rice.

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