Fried chicken, crispy chicken, chicken schnitzel: is there another dish that is so ubiquitous and yet so particular? Everyone has one, yes, but everyone has theirs. An Around the World in 80 Plates cookbook could easily be filled with nothing but fried chicken recipes: Austrian Schnitzel, Korean Fried Chicken, Italian Fried Chicken, Japanese Tonkatsu, Chicken Milanese, Chinese Gong Bao, Senegalese Chicken Yassa , southern fried chicken, etc. about. Fried chicken is loved all over the world.
It is easy to understand why. Chicken is, for those who eat meat, affordable and accessible to cook and consume in a way that red meat is not always. It’s simple, often quick, and most importantly, it checks the box “What will everyone around the table eat?” cash register. And that’s it before it’s fried.
In the world of things that can be marinated, battered and fried, chicken is hard to beat. Once crispy and tender, chicken is the dish that celebrates so many events together.
In the world of things that can be marinated, battered and fried, chicken is hard to beat. Once crisp and tender, chicken is the dish that holds so many events together. Whether it’s a dish passed around at a small family dinner or a dish slipping past a chain restaurant, chances are it contains chicken.
Behind every fried or crispy chicken recipe there is a story. The books are dedicated to tracing the roots and politics of southern fried chicken, the role slavery played in its history, and the racist stereotypes that accompanied it.
The name of a chicken dish can change and in doing so say a lot about the era it came from. Such was the case with gong bao ji ding, the Chinese peanut chicken dish, named after the late 19th-century governor of Sichuan Ding Baozhen, whose official title was Gongbao. Its association with the dish led Cultural Revolution radicals to change the dish’s name to hong bao ji ding: quick-fried chicken cubes. It stayed that way until the 1980s.
Or the story can be a story of movement, the journey a dish takes within a single family, where the same secret recipe is kept and passed down from one generation to the next. History and politics, time and place – these are all great stories in which fried chicken plays a small but real part.
Rather prosaically, the story can also be about what’s on the shelf and in the cupboards that you need to eat on a weeknight. This is certainly the case for me when cooking crispy chicken at home. Central European immigrants to Israel during the 20th century made chicken schnitzel a standard weeknight dish in most Israeli households. The schnitzel (and an almost obligatory chopped salad and bowl of fries) that was served almost every time I stayed over for dinner at a friend’s house is what comes to mind when I open the fridge and pantry to get ready. for dinner.
And then there are the stories and memories of fried chicken I ate with friends and strangers on my travels across Asia and back home in London, including the westernized Chinese lemon chicken that I often loosely base my own version on.
Along with those memories, I have the ingredients that permanently reside on my shelves, which I reach for every time I cook: fresh and preserved lemon, cumin and coriander seeds, butter and broth, soy sauce, and eggs. The result is a fast food dinner with a long and rich history – delicious enough to keep my kids at the table long enough for me to tell them some of the stories.
DOUBLE LEMON CHICKEN
The universally loved crispy chicken, from Austrian schnitzel to Korean fried chicken to the westernized lemon chicken you’d get at your local Chinese restaurants, is found in multiple corners of the world and thus served on many tables. That lemon chicken is the inspiration for this dish, where a sweet lemon sauce covers crispy fried chicken pieces. This Middle Eastern version uses a preserved lemon paste and lots of fresh lemon to brighten it up. You’ll make a little more canned lemon paste than you need; Use it to dress salads, mix it with roasted vegetables, or stir it into soups. Serve this dish with some lightly cooked vegetables and white rice.
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
for the chicken
2 medium egg whites (about 60g, save the yolks for another use)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons of cornmeal
salt and black pepper
4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
80ml of neutral oil, such as sunflower oil
1 spring onion, trimmed and thinly sliced at an angle
1 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
For the Cheater’s Canned Lemon Paste
1 large lemon, unwaxed (or well scrubbed), ends trimmed and discarded, then sliced 1/2-inch thick, pitted
60ml lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
For the lemon sauce
700 ml of chicken broth
1½ tablespoons / 25g unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon powdered sugar or granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1½ teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and crushed in a mortar
1½ tablespoons cornmeal
2 tablespoons lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
salt and black pepper
one Prepare the chicken: In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, soy sauce, cornmeal, ½ teaspoon salt, and a little pepper until smooth, about 30 seconds. Working one breast at a time, place the chicken between two pieces of parchment paper and use a meat mallet (or the bottom of a skillet) to pound the chicken evenly so it is just 1cm thick. Transfer to the bowl of egg whites and continue with the rest. Toss everything gently to coat and refrigerate to marinate for at least an hour (or overnight if you’re making ahead).
two Meanwhile, make the preserved lemon paste: Add all ingredients to a small, lidded saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the skins begin to look translucent and the juice has reduced by half. Let cool slightly, then transfer everything to a small food processor and blend until you have a smooth, spreadable paste. (You should have about 1/4 cup.) Reserve 3 tablespoons for the sauce, then store the rest in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks.
3 Make the sauce: Add the 3 tablespoons preserved lemon paste, broth, butter, garlic, sugar, turmeric, and half the cumin to a medium saucepan, then place over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until reduced by about a third. Measure about 3 tablespoons of the sauce into a small bowl, then add the cornmeal and whisk until smooth. Whisk this back into the sauce pot and cook for 1 minute, whisking continuously, until smooth and thickened slightly. Get out of the fire.
4 Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot (a pinch of cornmeal thrown into the oil should sizzle immediately), fry two of the chicken breasts for 3 minutes per side, or until nicely browned and cooked through. It should easily release from the pan with a little help from a metal spatula. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and continue with the remaining 2 breasts. It might spit, so lower the heat if you have to. Wipe out skillet, add sauce and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add all the chicken breasts back in and cook for just 3 minutes, gently turning halfway through. Remove from heat and add the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
5 Transfer chicken breasts (cut into strips, if desired) to a large rimmed serving platter and spoon sauce all over. Sprinkle with the remaining cumin. In a small bowl, mix together the spring onion, cilantro, and remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice, covering with a spoon. — This article originally appeared in The New York Times