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General Tso's Chicken ...inspired by How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days {food 'n flix}

This month's Food 'n Flix selection is not one that I would coin an actual "foodie flick", but somehow it worked.  Our host this month is Tina from Squirrel Head Manor; her choice - How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.  And I love it that she picked something  unexpected!

I will admit that I cringed a bit when I first heard her choice, though.  Why's that, you ask?  It's not because I don't love chick-flicks (I totally do.  I love them).  Plus, I remember liking the movie when I saw it years ago.  But you know how some "stars" can begin to wear on your last nerve over time?  Well, that's the case with Kate Hudson.  Oh, and even though I probably shouldn't admit it, it's also the case with Matthew McConaughey.  Don't hate me girls.

I used to look forward to seeing Kate and her adorable self.  She was like Meg Ryan (you know what I'm talking about, right?).  Sweet, pretty, and yet relatable.  And then she and Chris Robinson got a divorce.  By the time she dated A-Rod (not a fan), I lost interest.  Again, sort of like the whole Meg Ryan affair with Russell Crowe.  A shift in perception.

And Matthew.  I don't know.  My favorite role of his is still Wooderson.  He IS Wooderson.  But  Something else I hate to admit - I didn't like him in Magic Mike.  I know, I know.  Revoking my girl card.
But back to the matter at hand.  When I watched this movie again after all these years, I remembered why (and when) I liked both of them.  The chemistry is great.  The story is fun.  Food plays a minor role, but it's there.

Basically, Andie Anderson is a writer who wants to write serious stories about things that matter, but she's stuck writing fluff.  Drawing inspiration from her friend's (and many other women's) mistakes they make while dating, she comes up with a story idea.  She will date a guy and commit every single dating no-no imaginable.  Basically, she'll make a guy fall for her and subsequently loathe her within the course of ten days.  On the flip side, Ben Barry makes a bet with his boss that he can make a woman (any woman) fall in love with him by a certain time next week (coincidentally...ahem...about ten days from then), so that he can land a certain advertising account.

Let the games begin!

From popcorn in the movies, to hot dogs on the street, to pizza and cosmos on a rooftop, to a home-cooked lamb with cherry glaze, wine, and carrots to a broccoli and asparagus casserole to cucumber sandwiches to snowcones - there's plenty of little tasty bits floating about.

If you haven't seen the flick, you can probably guess that everything goes to pot before the happy ending (it's a chick-flick, people).  But since they do come together in the end, I decided to make a dish that I think they'd love to go out and eat together.  As a REAL couple.  Something they can find by walking the New York streets together.  Something they can have fun eating - chopsticks and sweat-beaded foreheads.  Something they can even take away in carry-out boxes on the back of Ben's bike.  I made them a meal that my husband and I love to eat together - our favorite Chinese take-out food... General Tso's Chicken!

General Tso's Chicken

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 30-60 minutes
Cook Time: ~20 minutes
Keywords: fry entree chiles chicken Asian Chinese

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
  • ~3 lbs. boneless chicken breasts (4 fat ones)
for marinade and sauce:
  • ½ c. hoisin sauce
  • ¼ c. white vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 3 Tbs. sugar
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1½ c. water
  • 1 Tbs. corn, peanut, olive, or vegetable oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
for coating the chicken:
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1½ c. cornstarch
  • ½ c. all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
for frying:
  • corn, peanut, or vegetable oil
to serve:
  • cooked rice or noodles
  • sliced scallions, optional
Cut the chicken breasts into ~1-inch pieces. Place into a gallon-size zippered baggie.

Whisk the hoisin, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, and water together in a small bowl. Add 6 tablespoons of this to the baggie with the chicken. Seal the baggie and smoosh it around so that the marinade coats all of the chicken pieces. Set aside (refrigerate, if you like, but it won't hurt to sit out for up to one hour at room temperature) to marinate for 30-60 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating, heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add garlic, ginger, and red chile flakes and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the remaining marinade to the pan and bring to a simmer while whisking. Continue to simmer and whisk until the sauce has thickened and turned darker, 3-5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

Tip the chicken out into a colander that has been set in the sink and allow to drain for 10 minutes. Beat the egg whites until foamy in a large bowl. Whisk together the cornstarch, flour, and baking soda in a second large bowl. Pour oil to a depth of 1-2" in a heavy-bottomed pot with deep sides over medium-high heat until it is hot, ~350° F (hold at this temperature while frying). Line a baking sheet with paper towels; set aside.

Carefully add the drained chicken to the bowl with the egg whites and use your hands to get in and toss it all around so that all the chicken pieces get covered in egg white. Lift the pieces out of the egg white and let some of it drip back into the bowl, then transfer to the cornstarch mixture. Toss to coat and then add to the hot oil. Do not overcrowd your pan, do this in batches (the chicken pieces are fine sitting in the egg whites until you transfer what you need to the cornstarch mixture and the oil).

Fry for approximately 5 minutes, or until golden, crispy, and cooked through. Lift pieces out with a slotted spoon or fish spatula (that's what I always use when frying) and set on prepared baking sheet. Continue until all of your chicken has been fried.

Pour the warm sauce into a large bowl and add the fried chicken pieces. Toss to coat and serve over warm rice or noodles. Garnish with a smattering of scallions, if using. Enjoy!

This is EXTREMELY spicy! I mean, regret it tomorrow kind of spicy. If you can't handle that much spice, decrease the red chile flakes by at least half, maybe even more. But don't leave them out entirely, General Tso's is supposed to have heat!

A huge thanks to my friend Jen of Juanita's Cocina, who I adapted this recipe (only in method, not in ingredients) from - this is my favorite dish to order from the Chinese take-out place! This comes so incredibly close that I can now make it at home instead of ordering take-out. You know. Potentially. Although I admit to enjoying the whole take-out experience now and again.
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Food‘nFlixThis round of Food 'n Flix is being hosted by Tina at Squirrel Head Manor.  If you want to join us this month, carve out a couple of hours to watch How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days and then head into the kitchen to whip up something inspired by the flick - and then send your entries to Tina (here's how) no later than March 27th!

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