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Crisp-fried chicken chunks.

Bite-size bits of crisp-crusted boneless chicken--currently jockeying for position as the American alternative to hamburgers--take on a Western character when liberally seasoned with chili and herbs. For the traditionalist, we've included a less complex variation.

Cook up a batch of chicken morsels for an informal lunch, as nibbles for a patio party, or for a substantial snack. Offer with a dipping sauce or two.

Although the chicken chunks are crispest when fresh from the hot oil, they can be cooked ahead and reheated.

Chili Chicken Chunks 3 whole chicken breasts (about 1 lb. each), skinned and boned; or about 3 pounds chicken thighs (about 9), skinned and boned; or half each breasts and thighs 3/4 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal 2 teaspoons chili powder 1/2 teaspoon each paprika and salt 1/4 teaspoon each ground cumin and dry oregano leaves 1/8 teaspoon pepper 3/4 cup beer Salad oil Dips (suggestions follow)

Cut chicken into bite-size chunks: about 1- to 1-1/2-inch squares or rectangles. Set meat aside. In a bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, chili powder, paprika, salt, cumin, oregano, and pepper. Add beer and stir until batter is smooth.

Add chicken breast or thigh pieces to batter; if making a combination batch, keep light and dark meat separate and add an equal amount of batter to each. Stir chicken to coat evenly.

In a deep 3- to 4-quart pan, heat 1 to 1-1/2 inches of salad oil to 350 [deg.] on a thermometer. Lift chicken from batter, one piece at a time, and add to hot oil. Fill pan with a single layer of chicke but do not crowd; stir occasionally to separate pieces that stick together. Fry until chicken is richly browned and no longer pink in center (cut to test), about 2 minutes for breast pieces, 3 minutes for thigh pieces. Lift from oil with a slotted spoon, draining briefly.

Place cooked chicken in a single layer on a pan lined with several thicknesses of paper towels; keep morsels warm while remaining chicken cooks. (If made ahead, let cool and refrigerate as long as overnight; reheat in a pan, about 10 by 15 inches and linked with paper towels, in a 350 [deg.] oven until hot, about 15 minutes.)

Mound chicken in a napkin-lined basket. Pick up pieces and dip, bite by bite, into sauces. Makes 5 or 6 main-dish servings, or 8 to 10 appetizer servings.

Dips. You'll need at least 2 cups. Use one dip or, for variety, make up several half-recipes. If you like, include purchased sauces, such as a barbecue sauce or salsa.

Guacamole dip. Peel, pit, and mash 2 medium-size ripe avocados. Blend avocado with 1/4 cup sour cream or unflavored yogurt, 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice, 2 tablespoons diced canned green chilies, salt, and liquid hot pepper seasoning to taste. If made ahead, cover and chill as long as overnight; stir before serving. Makes about 2 cups.

Dijon dip. Blend 1 cup mayonnaise or sour cream with 8 to 10 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. If made ahead, cover and chill up to 3 days; stir before serving. Makes about 1-1/3 cups.

Horseradish dip. Blend 1 cup mayonnaise or sour cream with 8 to 10 tablespoons prepared horseradish and 4 teaspoons lemon juice. If made ahead, cover and chill up to 3 days; stir before serving. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

Golden Chicken Chunks

For a more mildly seasoned version, prepare chili chicken chunks as directed but omit from batter the cornmeal, chili powder, ground cumin, and dry oregano leaves. Increase all-purpose flour to a total of 1 cup. Serve with suggested dipping sauces or consider teriyaki, sweet-sour, and other Oriental-style sauces.
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Mar 1, 1986
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