Friday, June 6, 2014

Chicken Fingers with Sweet and Sour Sauce

Okay, let’s get a few things out of the way here. We must acknowledge that there is a vast difference between certain dishes in the North, and certain dishes in the South. Down here, for this dish, these are usually referred to as Sweet and Sour Chicken. Up North, where I’m from (up until 2 years ago), they are Chicken Fingers; they are long, not little blobs, and we dip them in Duck Sauce. Now, let’s not even get into what real Duck Sauce is; if you’re from the North, you know that when someone says Duck Sauce, it is that pale peach colored somewhat drippy concoction with the most delightful combination of sweet, sour, and texture. It is not sticky, gooey, or a brilliant orange-red. That is called Sweet and Sour Sauce.

I’ll wager you can guess which side I’m biased towards. ;) Unfortunately, coming up with a recipe for northern Duck Sauce is like trying to find Waldo in a misprint Where’s Waldo book that forgot to include Waldo in it. If I could show you the myriad different combinations of ingredients I’ve put together to match that wonderful perfection…but then you’d see me at my most frustrated, snarling worst from all the wasted ingredients, money, and time.

What you have here, for now, is a typical Sweet and Sour Sauce that my taste testers decided was the best out of all my trial recipes. Until I can come up with a recipe for The Blessed Most High Duck Sauce of Perfection From the North, this will have to do.

So, let’s get cooking!

You’ll obviously want to make the Sweet and Sour Sauce first so it’s ready when the Chicken Fingers are done. Place the pineapple juice and pineapple in a blender and blend until smooth. I used the handy dandy hand blender that my dad and his wife gave me.

Pour into a small or medium saucepan and add the vinegar. Remove about 1 Tbl of this mixture and put in a small bowl. Add the sugar and cook, whisking to dissolve the sugar.

Take the small bowl of mixture that you spooned out and add the cornstarch to it, mixing.

Use that to thicken the mixture in the saucepan, using the whisk. Turn off the heat and add the ketchup, mixing well.

Now for the Chicken Fingers. Set a skillet on a little above medium heat with about 3 inches of oil. It can get nice and hot while you’re working on the rest. Get a sheet pan ready with a double layer of paper towels to absorb grease.

Combine the flour, corn starch, and baking powder in a medium sized bowl. Have the egg beaten and ready, and the water measured out. Set this aside.

Slice the chicken breasts in long strips, about ½” to ¾” thick. You’ll end up with some shorter pieces. Those can be called Sweet and Sour Chicken for the Southerners, if you’d like. ;)

With a whisk, add the beaten egg and water to the dry ingredients for the batter, mixing well enough to make it smooth.

When your oil is hot enough, dip the strips of chicken into the batter, hold above the bowl to let any excess drip off, and carefully place in the oil. Cook for about 2 minutes each side, until a lovely golden brown.

Scoop out with a slotted metal spoon, or use tongs, and place onto the prepared sheet pan.

When all the chicken is done, serve with the Sweet and Sour Sauce. Enjoy! ~TMMF

Chicken Fingers

1-2 lb chicken breast,
   skinless and boneless
1 c flour
2 Tbl corn starch
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 c water

Sweet and Sour Sauce

½ c pineapple juice
enough pineapple chunks
   to make juice equal 1 c
1/3 c vinegar
1/3 c sugar
5 tsp corn starch
2 Tbl ketchup

*Note: Ignore the pink color of the sauce in the ramekin on the plate in the photo. Someone grabbed a ramekin with one of the other sauces in it by mistake for the photo. Oh, um…that would be me. Mea culpa. ;)

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