Kung Pao Chicken

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4 servings Easy
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Ingredients (23)

For the sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon *granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan fermented chili bean paste
  • 1 cup chicken broth

For the chicken:

  • 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 cups leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced in approximately 1/4-inch pieces
  • 2 cups 1/2-inch diced white onion
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 pounds skinless and boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2-inch squares
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup scallions, sliced in 1/4-inch pieces, white parts only (reserved the green part for garnishing)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 12 Sichuan dried chile peppers, seeded
  • 1/2 cup raw shelled peanuts

For serving:

  • The reserved green parts of the scallions, sliced thin

Summary

Here’s a great spin on a classic Chinese takeout kung pao chicken for the slow cooker. The convenience and ease of a slow cooker enhances the aromatic flavors of Sichuan cooking by allowing the chicken to braise in a complex sweet and spicy sauce. It calls for Sichuan peppercorns, or Chinese coriander, a spice with slightly lemony overtones. For years, the Sichuan peppercorn was banned in the U.S., but now it’s easily found in Chinese markets and at Whole Foods. Our version omits the vegetables and allows the Sichuan peppercorns and chile peppers to shine, in a less-Americanized version that’ll make it hard to go back to takeout. Serve with steamed white or brown rice.

Instructions

  1. 1Whisk together all the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. 2To make the chicken, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large sauté or wok pan over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the leek and onion and sauté for about 5 minutes. Add the Sichuan peppercorns and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. 3Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and black pepper and add to the sauté pan until the chicken is lightly cooked, about 6 to 8 minutes. Add the ginger, garlic,and scallions and cook 2 minutes.
  4. 4Transfer the mixture to the crock of a slow cooker, then add the sauce and mix until everything’s combined. Cover and set the slow cooker to low and cook for 3 1/2 hours.
  5. 5In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Add this slurry to the slow cooker, stirring to combine. Cover and cook for another 30 minutes.
  6. 6Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the dried chiles and peanuts and cook, stirring frequently, until the chiles are softened but still crisp and the peanuts are lightly toasted, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. 7When the chicken is done, add the chile-peanut mixture to the slow cooker and stir gently. Serve immediately with steamed rice, sprinkled with the scallions.
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