There is a sentimental backstory to this recipe. When I was in college I was a server in a steakhouse that had these skewers on the menu. This was a highly coveted dish by ALL the staff on busy nights because you could seriously eat a bite on your way through. I can’t even count how many of these plates we all shared eating a bite here and there.
At the restaurant we used a pre-prepared sauce from the distributor, but I’ve been working to develop a scratch recipe that I was happy with. I can report that I’ve done it.
Yakitori literally means ‘grilled bird’ in Japanese and is prepared on charcoal grills on skewers as they were designed for portability as a “street food”. Charcoal is the preferred method of cooking as it produces high heat and strong flames while giving off little to no water vapor.
After grilling the skewers are usually dressed in a “tare” sauce which is a dipping sauce best described as a sweet thickened soy based sauce, but there are MANY different variations. Many cooks will season the skewers while they are grilling in addition to a dipping sauce.
One of the keys to success with this dish is uniformly sized pieces of everything on the skewer.
CHICKEN YAKITORI aka JAPANESE CHICKEN on a STICK
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 LARGE bunch green onions or 1 Vidalia onion cut into wedges
1 pineapple cut into 1 inch cubes
10 to 12 (5-inch) bamboo skewers
- Soak skewers in water for 30 minutes.
- Cut the white and light green part of scallions into 1 inch pieces.
- Cut chicken into 1-inch cubes.
- Alternate each chicken slice with a piece of pineapple and a scallion lined up perpendicular to the skewer.
TARE (YAKITORI) SAUCE
½ cup Bragg’s liquid aminos
½ cup mirin
¼ cup sake
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons PACKED brown sugar
1 teaspoon FRESH grated ginger
2 green onions, green tops minced
- In a small saucepan whisk together the mirin, liquid aminos, sake, water, brown sugar, grated ginger and green parts of scallion, and bring it to a boil over high heat.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until the sauce is reduced by at least half. It will take about 30 minutes.
- Let it cool to room temperature before using. The sauce will thicken with a glossy shine as it cools. Reserve ⅓ of the sauce in a small bowl for final coating after the chicken is cooked.
Note: You can make the sauce ahead of time omitting the green onion part. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 months.
- Heat grill to medium high.
- Grease the grate of the grill to avoid the chicken sticking on the grate.
- Place the skewers on top.
Sear for 4 minutes.
- Turn skewers and sear the other side for 4 minutes.
- Brush with sauce and grill 2 more minutes.
- Flip and brush the other side and grill 2 more minutes.
- Repeat the flipping and brushing until chicken is cooked through.
Transfer the skewers to a serving plate.
- Brush the chicken again with the reserved sauce.
General Tso’s chicken is traditionally a sweet, deep-fried chicken dish that is served in Chinese restaurants. It is often seen as General Tse’s chicken. The dish is named after Zuo Zongtang (Tso Tsung-t’ang), a Qing dynasty statesman and military leader.
This baked version of General Tso Chicken is baked for a lighter and much healthier version that actually tastes BETTER to us than the original version AND it is so much easier to prepare. The sauce is sweet and savory and best of all is poured right over the raw chicken for a one pan supper that tastes better than ANY restaurant quality meal.
GENERAL TSO CHICKEN Yield 4-6 servings
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts, cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
1 tablespoon cornstarch
½ cup chicken broth
½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup Hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon salt
3 cloves garlic, finely minced fresh garlic
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (add more for a spicier dish or omit for a mild dish)
¼ cup peanuts
Optional garnish: sliced green onions, toasted sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Spray a medium (9×6 or 11×7) baking dish with cooking spray.
Place chicken in the prepared dish. Sprinkle with cornstarch and toss to coat.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together chicken broth, brown sugar, Hoisin sauce, sesame oil, salt, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes.
- Pour sauce over chicken and stir to combine.
- Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir, return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened.
- Remove from oven, stir in peanuts. Season with additional salt and red pepper flakes, to taste.
- Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds just before serving.
1) Serve the General Tso Chicken over rice with plenty of extra sauce spooned over top. We love it with steamed broccoli!
2) If you’re just cooking for 2 the ingredients cut in half really well. I like to prepare it in individual 5×5 Le Crueset baking dishes.
I saw this on Damaris Phillip’s show, Southern at Heart and fell in love almost immediately! I made just a few alterations to fit with what I had on hand, but we love it and have had it several times, several ways since.
BUFFALO CHICKEN MEATLOAF
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 25 min COOK TIME: 1 hour PREP TIME: 25 min
1/3 cup ketchup**
1 tablespoon hot sauce
- Whisk together the ketchup and hot sauce in a small bowl and set aside.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup diced celery (2-3 stalks) + leaves reserved for garnish
1 cup small diced onion or shallot
3 tablespoons Frank’s original hot sauce
1 1/2 pounds ground chicken
1 cup blue cheese crumbles (GORGONZOLA works well too as does sharp cheddar)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons FRESH coarse ground black pepper
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- Preheat the oven to 350°.
- Grease a 9 X 5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
- Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and saute the celery and onion until softened, 3- 5 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture, plus the drippings, to a large bowl.
- Add the hot sauce to the bowl and stir to combine.
- Add the chicken, blue cheese, salt, pepper, eggs and 1 1/2 cups of the panko and mix until well combined.
- Press the mixture into the prepared loaf pan, pressing more in the center of the loaf to create a divot. This will allow the meatloaf to bake evenly and not create a mound after it is baked.
- Spread half of the sauce over the top of the meatloaf.
- Mix the Parmesan with the Panko and sprinkle the mixture on top of the sauce.
- Bake until the center is set and the top is golden brown, 45 minutes to an hour.
- Let rest 10-15 minutes before cutting to serve.
- Garnish the meatloaf slices with remaining heated sauce and chopped celery leaves.
**NOTE: Use jalapeno ketchup if you want a bit more spice.
SWEET GLAZED CHICKEN THIGHS serves 4-6
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup pineapple juice (I use a pineapple orange mix)
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons Bragg’s liquid aminos
1 1/2-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
FRESH ground salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Whisk together the melted butter, pineapple juice, liquid aminos and brown sugar until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Generously season both sides of the chicken thighs with the salt and pepper.
- Lightly grease baking dish.
- Place chicken thighs in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Pour pineapple juice mixture over the chicken.
- Cover and cook 45 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
- Remove chicken with a slotted spoon, keep warm.
- Pour pineapple mixture from baking dish into a stove top safe saucepan.
- Whisk together the water and cornstarch.
- Add cornstarch mixture to saucepan, whisking constantly until thickens.
- Plate chicken pieces and spoon sauce over chicken pieces.
- Serve immediately.
Fried onions are the star of the show here. These fried onions give you the crunch you expect of fried chicken whether it be grandma’s Sunday dinner or the good old colonel in a pinch on a week night, but leaving you with a healthy, juicy piece of chicken you can eat with a knife and fork. And then the creamy rich mushroom sauce round you right back towards grandma’s Sunday dinner with the comfort food feel of home.
CRISPY ONION CHICKEN with CREAMY MUSHROOM SAUCE – serves 2
6 oz. Cremini button mushrooms washed
1/2 pound green beans, washed, dried and trimmed
Crispy Fried Onions (I use French’s but you could make your own crispy shallots)
2-6 ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flattened to less than 1/2 inch
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup light cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon avocado oil
Fresh Ground salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Cover baking sheet in foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.
- Dice 2 of the larger mushrooms into 1/4 inch pieces.
- Cut remaining mushrooms into 1/4 inch slices.
- Chop crispy onions into small pieces.
- Pat chicken breasts dry.
- Generously season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Coat chicken breasts in sour cream.
- Place the chicken breasts on your baking tray.
- Sprinkle the crispy onion pieces evenly over the sour cream on the top of the chicken breasts.
- Gently press the onion pieces down into the sour cream.
- Place baking tray in hot oven and roast chicken 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
- In a medium skillet pan melt butter and avocado oil over medium high heat.
- Add sliced mushrooms, stirring occasionally until browned and caramelized.
- Add green beans, seasoning to taste and stirring 5-8 minutes until green beans are tender.
- Remove vegetables to platter with a slotted spoon.
- Add 1 tablespoon avocado oil and diced mushrooms, cooking until mushrooms are slightly brown (3-5 minutes).
- Add cream and bring to a SLOW boil, stirring frequently and cook until thick enough to coat spoon.
- Adjust seasoning.
- Remove from heat and plate immediately.