Despite taking that unexpected break from this project back in July and August, I’m actually really, really close to my goal now of making something from all of my cookbooks. Per the spreadsheet I’ve been using to track my progress I’m now 93% of the way there, and I only have seven books left to go before I’m finished. Most of this was due to me returning to this project with a vengeance in the last couple of weeks, and I’ve since flagged stuff to make in every single remaining book so I have a plan–I just have to figure out when I’m going to make everything.
One of the hopes I had for this exercise was to be able to introduce new recipes into our repertoire, because we had been leaning hard on old favorites a bit too frequently lately. My big hope was to find a few new ideas on what to do with our weekly boneless chicken thigh staples, because as I alluded to in my last post I had been resorting to throwing them on the Griddler and then tossing them with some sort of mango salsa or herby pesto. A fine idea to have, of course, but also kind of boring after doing it too frequently.
Leave it to Ivan Orkin to breathe some new life into them for me. His book Ivan Ramen is primarily concerned with making his signature ramen soup, but once he walks you through all of the components he gives you ideas on what to do with any surplus of ingredients. One of these recipes is chicken teriyaki, which he acknowledges is a bit trite, but also praises this preparation as easy and kid-pleasing and a way to use up steamed rice and rendered chicken fat. (Confession: I used pork fat instead as we have a ramekin of it in our fridge and it worked out really well.) It really is wonderfully simple: the chicken gets coated in a light dusting of flour and salt, and then is browned while you bring together the sauce components. Equal parts sake and mirin are mixed together with a bit of soy sauce and sugar until the latter has dissolved. You drain half the fat from the pan when the chicken has finished browning but keep any of the brown bits; these get scraped into the sauce when everything goes into the pan together. It’s easy to be a bit skeptical that the liquid will end up becoming a glossy, chicken-coating sauce in 12 measly minutes, but sure enough, that’s exactly what happens here.
I first made these for dinner last week dung Michael’s work trips to Colorado and loved them; still having the bottle of sake leftover in the fridge, I decided to make it again this week so we could enjoy them together. Orkin suggests serving this with rice and sliced cabbage, but personally I had them as-is and served alongside my normal salad, just to keep things a little more simple. Whatever floats your boat, honestly, works here.
lightly adapted from Ivan Ramen
Serves 2 with plentiful leftovers
- 3 tablespoons rendered pork or chicken fat
- 3 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 1/2 tablespoon all-purpose flour Kosher salt
- 3/4 cup sake
- 3/4 cup mirin
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
In a shallow bowl, toss the flour and a hefty pinch of salt with the chicken thighs and coat well.
In a saute pan over high heat, brown the chicken in the fat and ideally work in batches to avoid over-crowding the pan. Set the chicken aside on a plate, and pour off half the fat from the pan but keep as much of the browned bits as possible.
While the chicken browns, combine the sake, mirin, soy sauce, and sugar and stir well until the sugar dissolves.
Return all of the chicken into the pan as well as the sauce mixture (being sure to scrape up the browned bits), and cook over medium-high heat until the sauce reduces to a lovely, syrupy consistency. This will take about 12 minutes, but before you pull the chicken take the temperature to make sure you’ve hit 165 degrees. (For me, it was totally fine.) Serve immediately with accompaniments of choice.