When I was in middle school, the band (yes, I was a band geek…a theatre geek and a choir geek, too) sold cookbooks for a fund-raiser. They were inexpensive little things, of course, with cute music “themes.” My parents bought one, naturally, and it went on a shelf somewhere to collect dust, with the rest of my mother’s modest cookbook collection. (Mom could cook when she wanted to – she just rarely wanted to.)
When I grew up, married and moved away from home Mom gladly handed over the majority of her cookbooks, one of which was the fund-raiser book. I don’t think I made many of the recipes, but there was one in there that struck my fancy and has remained in my repertoire since: Candied Chicken.
Not nearly as sweet as the name suggests, it’s a quick, easy and inexpensive sweet-and-sour recipe that lends itself to all sorts of interpretation. Kids love it, as do grown men, and it can be made with inexpensive chicken parts with the skin and bones, or boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs. While I make it mostly with boneless, skinless breasts for convenience, it tastes best with bone-in, skin-on chicken parts. I’ll start with the original recipe, then the version for boneless, skinless chicken breasts.
This is very good with homemade mashed potatoes and a nice vegetable.
1 package of “Pick of the Chick” chicken parts
1/2 cup flour
salt and pepper to taste
2 – 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup pancake syrup (the really cheap stuff is just fine)
1/2 cup ketchup (again, the really cheap stuff is fine)
1/2 cup plain white vinegar
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the syrup, ketchup and vinegar with a whisk; set aside.
Mix the flour, salt and pepper in a wide, shallow dish like a pie plate. Heat the oil over high heat in a large, heavy skillet until almost smoking. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then fry in the oil until brown all over, about 3 -5 minutes on each side. Drain briefly on a paper towel, then place, skin side up, in a large shallow baking dish, such as a Pyrex glass 15x10x2 cake pan.
Pour the syrup mixture over the chicken and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when the chicken thighs are pierced with a fork.
Boneless, Skinless Breast Version
Heat oven to 350 degrees; mix the pancake syrup, ketchup and vinegar as instructed before.
Place 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a large shallow baking dish, such as a Pyrex glass 15x10x2 cake pan. Pour the syrup mixture over the chicken and bake for 20 – 30 minutes, or until chicken is done.