Black Pepper Chicken

BROOKE CAISON

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Easy

2 People

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Black Pepper Chicken

This savory, spicy, and saucy Chinese-American inspired stir fry makes for the ideal crowd pleasing weeknight meal or Sunday night meal prep menu item. Stir fry is already quick and easy, but there are a few tips and tricks that will make you forget all about your favorite takeout spot.

Marinate the chicken before cooking!

The first step to juicy, tender chicken is a popular technique for tenderizing chicken, called velveting. Velveting is the process of marinating protein in a cornstarch slurry before frying or boiling to keep it moist and tender. The bit of downtime while the chicken marinates is great for dicing veggies and making stir fry sauce.

Get the right equipment.

A wok is definitely the top contender for making stir fry as close to authentic as possible, but, if you’re in a pinch, a beginner in the kitchen, or just plain can’t justify buying a wok, a large nonstick

skillet is totally fine. Go for a skillet with sloped slides so that you can properly toss the food as it cooks. 

Prep all your ingredients ahead.

A French term meaning “put in place”. Minimize scrambling for ingredients while making stir fries. Have all of your ingredients pre-sliced and prepped in small bowls on a baking tray. Set the tray next to the stove top so each ingredient is within arm’s reach.

Ingredients

FOR THE MARINATED CHICKEN

  • 3 tbsp. low-sodium dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. rice wine (dry sherry works too)
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3/4 c. cornstarch, divided
  • 1 1/2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced into ½” pieces

FOR THE SAUCE

  • 1/3 c. oyster sauce
  • 1/3 c. rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/3 c. cup low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp. low-sodium dark soy sauce

FOR THE STIR-FRY

  • 3 tbsp. neutral oil, such as canola or vegetable
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into ½” pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced ¼” thick
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 scallions, sliced, greens and whites separated
  • Steamed white rice, for serving

Perform

  1. Make the marinade: In a large shallow dish, add the soy sauce, rice wine (or sherry), sesame oil, garlic, black pepper, and salt and whisk to combine. Add 6 tablespoons of cornstarch and whisk to combine, breaking up any lumps of cornstarch. Add the diced chicken to the cornstarch mixture and toss to combine. Spread into a single layer and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Make the sauce: Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk to combine all of the sauce ingredients.  Set aside.
  3. When chicken is done marinating, sprinkle the pieces with remaining 6 tablespoons of cornstarch, tossing to coat. (Some of the pieces may stick together, which is fine.) Heat a wok or a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of neutral oil. Working in batches, add the chicken pieces to the hot oil, separating any pieces that are stuck together. Continue to cook until chicken is golden brown with a thin crispy crust and is completely cooked though, 4 to 5 minutes. Place chicken pieces in a single layer on a paper towel-lined sheet pan.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok/skillet and heat over high until you see a wisp of smoke. Add the bell peppers and celery and season with a pinch of salt. Cook, tossing frequently over high heat for about 2 minutes. (The bell peppers should begin to blister.)
  5. Add sliced garlic and scallion whites and cook for another 2 minutes, continuing to toss and stir to make sure the heat is evenly distributed. Add the stir fry sauce and bring to a rapid boil so that sauce begins to reduce. Continue cooking until the sauce has reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
  6. Working in batches, return chicken to wok/skillet, tossing to coat with sauce after each addition. Top with scallion greens and serve with steamed white rice.

tips

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