So, hockey season has started and in this house, we bleed blue and white. It’s a birth right, or requirement, to be a Toronto Maple Leaf’s fan, and Bo and I had our own little hockey tradition going. Until the kids that is.
Every hockey game we used to go out to a local wing joint to watch the game. We might switch up the restaurant every once in a while, but the order was always the same “two cokes, 1lb medium, 1lb honey garlic and some fries and/or poutine”.
Then I got pregnant with Oliver, and by the 6th month the order started to change. Sometimes that second pound of honey garlic would be Thai, and sometimes, every once in a while, it would be medium.
Then Oliver was born and we didn’t get out for wings during hockey season nearly as often.
Then I was pregnant with Anna.
When I was pregnant with Anna, and I felt like wings, Bo was very smart about it and took me out for wings. He also kept Oliver occupied while I stuffed my face (remind me to tell you about this one time, during all you can eat wings, oh lord did I disgust Bo that day). Only now, they were hot wings. Like, forget medium, bring on the heat! And honey garlic? That seemed sooo childish.
Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be a recipe post for chicken bites?
Any way, the moral of this story is that once you have two kids, you REALLY don’t get out for wings all that often, especially during hockey season when the pubs are jam packed with fans. Making actual chicken wings at home isn’t always feasible either, because I don’t trust Oliver to not try and swallow a whole bone or something, so making chicken bites means I can leave some un-sauced for him to have. Bonus.
Now, I’ve made chicken bites a few different ways before: battered, or dredged in bread crumbs. Both ways were delicious, but once you covered them in sauce they always lost all of their fantastic crunch. To me at least, the crunch is the best part. Then I found the Cooks Illustrated Americas Favorites 2011 magazine, and lo and behold, a recipe using cornstarch for a breading. Huh. Full disclosure, this isn’t their recipe exactly, as I’ve made some changes based on things I wasn’t thrilled about with the first batch. It was a fantastic jumping off point though.
I had some major reservations while prepping this dinner. It took more time then I would have liked when other methods were so quick, and the breading had a bit of sauce mixed in so I was worried Oliver wouldn’t like it. Turns out that I shouldn’t have worried about Oliver, because he actually ate a decent amount, and all that extra prep? Well, the fact that 30 minutes after I started eating, when I went back for seconds and they were still crunchy? That would have been enough for me, but add on how bloody delicious they tasted. Sold. For life, these are now my buffalo chicken bites.
Yes, the sauce has some kick, but it’s not outrageous. If you can handle medium wings, you’re fine.
Put your chicken pieces, buttermilk and salt in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours, yay for advanced prep!)
Make your sauce by combining hot sauce, water, butter, sugar and cornstarch in a pan.
Whisk it together until it thickens up.
In a bowl stir together flour, baking soda, and cornstarch. Then add 6 tbsp of the hot sauce.
Get your hands in there and mix it together until it looks like coarse meal.
Here’s a closer shot of the final texture.
In another bowl, whip up your egg whites until soft peaks just start to form.
Now, I couldn’t take pictures between breading steps because Bo was cuddling with Oliver on the couch and my hands were a total mess, negating my being able to pick up the camera. So, you throw half the chicken in the egg whites and move them around until they’re well coated, then you add the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat well, pressing the mixture onto the chicken. Then repeat with the second half of the chicken pieces.
Then you fry them for about 4 or 5 minutes, until nice and golden and cooked through, and then toss them in the remaining sauce. I thought that I could have used a bit more sauce, but because the breading was flavored we didn’t mind at all the few bare spots. I have altered the recipe a bit though to make an extra ¼ cup of sauce. I just made some potato wedges to go with them.
Seriously, how could you resist devouring a plate full of these.
Ladies, do I really need to point out what kind of position you would be in if you made these for your husband the next time his buddies came over to watch a game. A good position. A very good position. I would think a good enough position to go out and buy a ridiculously awesome pair of shoes. I’ll try it and let you know
Here’s your printable:
- 3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1½" chunks
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup Franks Red Hot sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp + 1½ cups cornstarch
- 3 large egg whites
- ½ cup flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- oil for frying
- Put the chicken, buttermilk and salt into a zip-lock bag and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or up to two hours).
- In a small pot, combine the hot sauce, water, butter, sugar and 1 tbsp cornstarch. Whisk over medium heat until thickened, 3 - 5 minutes. Turn off heat
- In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites just until very foamy and soft peaks just start to form.
- In a second medium bowl stir together the flour, baking soda, remaining 1½ cups cornstarch and 6½ tbsp of the hot sauce until it resembles coarse meal.
- Remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade and lightly pat dry. Add half of the chicken to the egg whites and toss to coat well. Remove the chicken from the egg whites and add it to the cornstarch mixture, tossing to coat, and then pressing the breading into the chicken to ensure it is well coated. Remove the chicken to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken chunks.
- Fry at 350ºF oil for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown, being sure not to over crowed the chicken (cook it in two or three batches). If necessary, chicken can be help in a 200ºF oven while cooking subsequent batches, for up to 30 minutes. While the chicken is frying, re-heat the sauce over medium heat.
- Toss the cooked chicken pieces with the sauce in a large bowl and serve.