Covid is like being in prison, but your own prison, stuck in the house that you love. Since the middle of March, like everyone else in the world, my normal has been anything but. My home, which I always considered spacious, now seems claustrophobic. Having 16 and 13 year old boys in your home with nowhere to go will do that. Since the pandemic began, my family has struggled to find ways to keep busy. We’ve gone from driveway tennis and basketball, to Pokemon Go road trips into down town Ellicott City, MD, and we have done our best to stay sane. The one thing that has been constant is food. The way we obtain the groceries has changed, and before Covid I had never heard of Shipt, or Instacart, but now they know my address by heart. Each day planning out dinner has been a bright spot for me. From smoked brisket and ribs, to fancier meals like osso bucco, and shrimp lo mein, I have done my best to offer my crew an assortment of meals. Struggling not to feel helpless against the virus my family, and I decided that the least we could do was share some of the meals we were enjoying with others. It started out by taking some extra Brisket to our next door neighbor, and a co-worker whose wife is a vegetarian, and evolved into Chicken Pallooza.
On a Saturday afternoon in early July, with far too much time on my hands, I decided to cook and deliver 72 pieces of Korean style fried chicken to several of our friends. Some neighbors, some friends, some who recently suffered the loss of a loved one, some living alone, and of course my co-worker with the vegetarian wife all received chicken. Over the course of three hours I trimmed, seasoned, corn starched, and fried chicken legs in a single pot on top of our flat top electric stove. Then my entire family packed each delivery into our car, and headed out for what became a highlight of our time dealing with Covid. The smiles we were met with at each stop were extraordinary. You would have thought we delivered filet mignon. This simple act of kindness had lifted so many people spirits that we have decided to make it a recurring event. I am sharing the recipe for Chicken Pallooza with the hopes that it might create more smiles.
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 lb. chicken parts
1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
1/2 c. cornstarch
3 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. freshly minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. ketchup
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. honey
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
- In a deep pot over medium-high heat, heat 4 to 6 cups vegetable oil (about 3 inches deep) to 275°. I use a Taylor Candy/Deep Fry thermometer. Be sure not to let oil get hotter. Your chicken will darken, but not cook through. Line a large plate or baking sheet with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine salt, pepper, baking powder, and garlic powder.
- Pat chicken dry with paper towels, then rub with grated ginger. Ginger will only slightly stick to the chicken, but the flavor will still be there. Season with salt mixture. In a large bowl, toss wings with cornstarch and squeeze to compress coating onto each wing.
- Carefully add chicken to oil and fry until skin is just lightly crisped and golden, occasionally flipping with tongs, about 15 to 18 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 175 degrees. I use a Amagram digital thermometer. Remove chicken from oil and set aside on prepared plate. Let rest briefly.
- Make sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add butter, ginger, and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in ketchup, vinegar, and soy sauce and cook until bubbling. Stir in honey and brown sugar and continue cooking until bubbling and slightly thickened.
- Pour sauce over chicken and toss until evenly coated.