Recipes: Crispy Sichuan Chili Chicken and Two Other Sweet and Savory Dishes


To toast the Szechuan peppercorns, heat them in a small skillet over medium heat and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool, then finely grind them in a spice grinder. To remove large fibrous bits, sift the ground pepper through a mesh strainer.

For extra heat, we make our own chili oil from Sichuan chili flakes, more peppercorns, and whole, dried Sichuan red chili peppers. Adjust the heat of this dish by using more or less chili oil.

It is best not to marinate the chicken for more than 30 minutes or it will be too salty.

1/3 cup soy sauce or tamari

3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar

4 tablespoons white sugar, divided

2 large egg whites, lightly beaten

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups (264 grams) cornstarch

¼ cup Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and finely ground

Kosher salt

2 liters peanut oil

8 green onions, thinly sliced

6 tablespoons Szechuan chili oil, plus extra for serving

1 tablespoon Sichuan seasoning salt, plus extra for serving (recipe follows)

1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro

In a large bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, 2 tablespoons of sugar and the egg whites. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the chicken and stir to coat, then cover and marinate at room temperature for 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet. In a large bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar, cornstarch, Sichuan pepper and 1 teaspoon salt.

Drain the chicken in a colander. Add ‚ chicken to cornstarch mixture and toss to coat, pressing pieces into cornstarch to adhere. Transfer coated chicken to a mesh strainer and shake to remove excess cornstarch. Transfer to the prepared rack in a single layer. Repeat with remaining chicken and cornstarch mixture.

Place a second rack in a rimmed baking sheet. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the peanut oil to 350 degrees. Add half of the coated chicken and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon or a metal slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to the second rack. Let the oil return to 350 degrees, then repeat with the remaining chicken.

In a small microwave-safe bowl or glass measuring cup, heat the Sichuan chili oil in the microwave until just hot, about 30 seconds. Combine hot fried chicken and scallions in a large bowl, drizzle with hot chili oil and sprinkle with Sichuan seasoning salt, then toss to coat. Add cilantro and mix again, then transfer to a dish. Serve, passing additional chilli oil and seasoning salt at the table.

Sichuan seasoning

Makes about ¼ cup

To toast the Sichuan peppercorns, heat them in a small, dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool, then finely grind in a spice grinder. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove fibrous bits.

3 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground

2 teaspoons of white sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

In a small bowl, mix all the ingredients. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.

Pasta with golden onions and breadcrumbsConnie Miller/of CB Creatives

Pasta with golden onions and breadcrumbs

Makes 4 servings

This classic Venetian dish typically uses bigoli, whole-wheat pasta shaped like fatty spaghetti. We love it with regular spaghetti, as well as with bucatini (also called perciatelli), a tube-like spaghetti. Toasted breadcrumbs, or pangrattato in Italian, aren’t traditional, but they add a welcome crunch. We use Japanese-style panko for its light and airy texture and toast it in olive oil before tossing it with chopped parsley and lemon zest.

Anchovies should not be rinsed before chopping, as this will remove some flavor.

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

¾ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, plus lemon wedges, for serving

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

12 ounces spaghetti or bucatini (see main note)

3 tablespoons chopped anchovy fillets, plus 4 teaspoons anchovy oil

2 large yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced

4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1½ cup dry white wine or vermouth

¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons salted butter cut into 4 pieces

In a 12-inch skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil until simmering. Add panko and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Leave to cool for a few minutes, then stir in the parsley, lemon zest and ¾ teaspoon of salt. Wipe out the pan.

In a large saucepan, bring 4 liters of water to a boil. Add pasta and 2 tablespoons salt; cook until pasta is al dente. Drain well, then return the pasta to the pot.

Meanwhile, place the skillet over medium-high heat and heat the anchovy oil until shimmering. Add onions and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are nicely browned and the garlic is browned, about 4 minutes. Stir in the anchovies, then add the wine, chili flakes and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, then add the butter and stir until it blends into the sauce.

Add the sauce to the pasta and toss to combine, then stir in ½ cup of the panko mixture. Transfer to a serving bowl, sprinkle with remaining panko mixture and serve with lemon wedges.

Roasted Chicken Breasts with Grapes and Sherry Vinegar

Makes 4 servings

We took inspiration from Melissa Clark’s version for this weeknight riff on a French bistro classic using chicken breasts. Try to buy breasts of a similar size so they cook at the same rate. We prefer the 12-ounce breasts, which take 30-35 minutes in the oven. Boobs weighing about 1 pound each will require 40-50 minutes.

Do not completely cut the roots of the onions. Just shave off the dry, fibrous outer layers. This helps the onion wedges hold together. The chicken breasts should fit comfortably in a single layer in the center of a roasting pan with the onion wedges around the perimeter; If your broiler pan is too small, a broiler pan without a split top is a good alternative.

If you can find ground fennel seeds, use 2 teaspoons instead of grinding your own. And, we love the flavor and texture of whole grain mustard, but regular Dijon works too.

12 ounces seedless red grapes, halved

4 tablespoons sherry vinegar, divided

2 teaspoons of white sugar

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

4 teaspoons fennel seeds, finely ground

4 bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, 12 ounces, patted dry

2 medium red onions (roots intact), peeled, each cut into 8 wedges

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons salted butter

1 tablespoon old-fashioned mustard

6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon

Heat the oven to 475 degrees with a rack in the middle position. In a small bowl, combine the raisins, 2 tbsp vinegar, sugar and ½ tsp salt and pepper. Put aside. In a separate small bowl, combine the fennel, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper, then use to season the chicken breasts on all sides. In a medium bowl, toss the onion wedges with the oil and ½ tsp salt and pepper.

Arrange the onion wedges around the perimeter of a roasting pan and place the chicken breasts in a single layer in the center. Roast until the thickest part of the breasts reaches 160 degrees, or a skewer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken meets no resistance, 30 to 35 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a dish and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain the grapes, reserving the liquid. Add the grapes to the center of the roasting pan and return the pan to the oven. Cook until raisins begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Transfer roasting pan to stove, add reserved grape liquid and cook over medium-high heat, scraping up browned bits, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Off the heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of vinegar, as well as the butter, mustard and tarragon. Stir until the butter melts. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the chicken.


Christopher Kimball is the founder of Milk Street, home to a magazine, school, and radio and television broadcasts. Globe readers get 12 weeks of full digital access, plus two issues of the print magazine Milk Street, for just $1. Go to 177milkstreet.com/globe. Send your comments to [email protected]


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