Cook’s Country Almond Boneless Chicken (Ep 1311)

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PHOTO CREDIT: JOE KELLER

Almond Boneless Chicken

Serves 4 to 6

Almond Boneless Chicken, which is a Chinese American restaurant staple in the Detroit area, consists of crispy battered chicken served on a bed of crunchy iceberg lettuce, topped with a mild brown sauce, and sprinkled with almonds and scallions. A combination of baking powder, baking soda, and beer keeps the batter light and crisp. Folding chopped toasted almonds into the batter provides more almond flavor as well as crunch. A combination of hoisin, soy sauce, and dry sherry adds complexity to the chicken broth–based sauce.

INGREDIENTS

Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons dry sherry
  • 2 teaspoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • teaspoon salt

Chicken

  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 ¼ cups lager or pilsner beer
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 quarts peanut or vegetable oil
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce (4 ½ ounces), cored and sliced thin crosswise
  • 3 scallions, sliced thin on bias

INSTRUCTIONS

Use a Dutch oven that holds 6 quarts or more. Choose a mild lager or pilsner for this recipe. In addition to iceberg lettuce, this dish is usually served with rice.

1. FOR THE SAUCE: Dissolve cornstarch in water in small bowl and set aside. Combine broth, sherry, hoisin, soy sauce, and salt in small saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Whisk in reserved cornstarch mixture, return to boil, and cook until thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat, cover, and keep warm, stirring occasionally.

2. FOR THE CHICKEN: Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet and line rack with triple layer of paper towels. Halve chicken breasts horizontally to form 8 cutlets. Pat cutlets dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.

3. Finely chop 1/4 cup almonds. Whisk chopped almonds, 1 cup flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, baking powder, baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, and 3/4 teaspoon pepper together in large bowl. Whisk in beer and egg. Combine remaining 1 cup flour and 1 teaspoon salt in shallow dish.

4. Working with 1 at a time, dip cutlets into batter to thoroughly coat, letting excess drip back into bowl. Dredge battered cutlets in flour to coat, shaking off excess, and place on parchment-lined sheet. Let cutlets sit while oil heats.

5. Add oil to large Dutch oven until it measures about 1 1/2 inches deep and heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Working in batches, add half of cutlets to hot oil. Adjust burner as necessary to maintain oil temperature between 325 and 350 degrees. Fry, stirring gently to prevent pieces from sticking together, until cutlets are golden and register 160 degrees, about 4 minutes, flipping halfway through frying. Transfer to prepared wire rack to cool while frying remaining cutlets.

6. Place lettuce on platter. Cut each cutlet crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices over lettuce and drizzle with sauce. Sprinkle with scallions and remaining 1/4 cup almonds. Serve.