Spicy Jalapeno Chicken is a crispy fried chicken in a thick, sweet, savoury, and spicy sauce; this recipe is most certainly for the spicy food lover. Prepared with a light and crispy coating, this chicken can be as spicy or as mild as you like – it’s really up to your personal preference!
There’s a common saying that not much in life is certain. Well, the one thing in my life that is most definitely certain is my love of jalapenos. How many times do I think to myself that I missed out on so many delicious recipes, because of my fear to try spicy or hot food!? I’ve long gotten over that fear and Spicy Jalapeno Chicken is my reward!
Since McKenna is going to school in Toronto and we spend much of our time apart, I find that I’m oftentimes thinking of recipes I can prepare that cover three of the following requirements. First, can I eat it for dinner tonight? Secondly, can I freeze it for later? And, finally, can I stock McKenna’s freezer with this so that she doesn’t have to worry about preparing dinner after class? Spicy Jalapeno Chicken fits the bill!
She’s a good cook, but she’s still new to it, so she second-guesses herself a lot when it comes to chicken. She feels that she has to overcook it so that she doesn’t get food poisoning. So, I’ll cook the chicken for her, and she can stick to the pasta, soups, and grilled cheese sandwiches until she’s more comfortable in the kitchen.
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OVERCOMING MY FEAR OF SPICY FOOD
Yes, that might sound funny, but I used to be so afraid of anything that was spicy. I used to think that just by touching jalapenos I would put myself at risk. You see, I would surely be that one person who would rub his eye right after! It took me years to master the ability to eat spicy food. You must understand, Dear Reader, I grew up in a house where the spiciest and hottest ingredient ever used with regular ground black pepper. Even that was used sparingly!
Eventually, I was able to increase my heat/spice level tolerance bit by bit until I could comfortably eat a jalapeno. Now, I think we have jalapenos on hand all the time. I’ve even managed to incorporate them into many of our regular dishes. Both John.e and McKenna will eat them too, which totally surprised me! I think the key for John.e is removing the heat factor first – the seeds! Both McKenna and I love the spice, so I’m leaving the seeds in for this recipe!
Come to think of it, I probably add spiciness to almost everything I prepare for myself. I’m just thinking about those dried red chili flakes, for example. I use about a jar of those in one month because I load up on them all the time. Of course, I only use those when I make something for myself. If John.e is eating what I’m preparing, it’s back to ground black pepper only.
INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO PREPARE THIS RECIPE
The following is a list of the ingredients needed to prepare this recipe. For exact amounts and measurements, refer to the printable recipe card located near the bottom of this post.
- Chicken – For best results, use boneless skinless chicken thighs. Lay the chicken flat. You will note that there are thinner sections where the bone was removed. Slice the thigh meat in those sections. You should end up with three pieces of chicken from each thigh.
- Salt & Ground Black Pepper
- Cornstarch – Cornstarch is the key to a light and crispy batter.
- Soy Sauce – Like I always say, use low-sodium soy sauce to prevent the dish from being too salty.
- Brown Sugar – First of all, it has way more flavour than regular white sugar! And, in this recipe, brown sugar helps to sweeten and add caramel flavour.
- Garlic – Use fresh garlic. The results are just better that way.
- Jalapenos – I used two large jalapenos. You can use more or less.
WHICH CHOICE OF CHICKEN WORKS BEST?
For this Spicy Jalapeno Chicken recipe, I would highly recommend boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I love working with chicken thighs. No matter what cooking method I throw at them, they always come out tender and moist. I’m also a fan of dark meat. I think it’s more flavourful. So, boneless, skinless chicken thighs are the way to go in my opinion.
You can certainly use breast meat for this recipe too. Because breast meat tends to cook faster than dark meat, you’ll want to ensure that the breast meat is cut into one-inch chunks. The breast meat can dry out rather quickly, especially if you’re planning to immerse it in hot oil. Using a larger piece of breast meat will ensure that it doesn’t become overdone and too dry. There’s nothing worse than dry breast meat!
Unlike chicken breast, you can cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into smaller pieces. They don’t have to be perfectly even. My rule of thumb is as follows: fry the thigh meat until golden brown. It’s really that simple.
OTTAWA VALLEY MEATS
The chicken you see in the photographs is from Ottawa Valley Meats. I used one package of skinless boneless chicken thighs, which is one pound. Sourced from local generational family farms that organically feed and raise White Rock chickens in a free-range environment. All their chicken products are air-chilled; this process significantly limits water content and ensures a superior taste and texture.
You can find a complete list at Ottawa Valley Meats. If you are in Ontario, be sure to take a look at the website. Ottawa Valley Meats offers seafood, beef, poultry, pork, etc. And, they deliver right to your door! The product comes in a freezer-refrigerated truck, which means the box doesn’t need to be stuffed with ice packs or dry ice. And, the food doesn’t need to be packaged into those silver cooler bags. Do you know what that means for me? Less waste! Give them a try – you won’t be disappointed!
HOW TO MAKE SPICY JALAPENO CHICKEN
Step 1: Toss Chicken with Cornstarch
The first thing you want to do is to add the prepared chicken to a bowl. Add the salt and ground black pepper. Toss to coat well. Next, add the cornstarch and toss until all of the chicken is well coated. Set this aside until you are ready to fry the chicken.
Step 2: Prepare the Sauce and Prep the Jalapenos
Add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, and garlic to a bowl and whisk well to combine. Set that aside. Next, slice the jalapenos into 1/4-inch slices. If you want a milder taste, you can remove the seeds from the slices. If you want a nice kick, leave them in. Set those aside until ready to use. Finally, add four inches of vegetable oil to a heavy-bottomed pot. Turn on the heat and heat the oil to 315 degrees F.
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Step 3: Fry the Chicken
Once you’re all ready to go and the oil is hot enough, it’s time to fry! Using tongs, lower the chicken into the oil one piece at a time. Don’t overcrowd the pot. I tend to fry them off about four or five pieces at a time. The chicken fries really quickly; it only needs about 5-6 minutes.
Once all of the chicken is fried, increase the heat of the oil to 350 degrees. Carefully place all of the chicken back into the oil. This is what I refer to as the second fry and it will add further crispiness to your chicken and it only needs another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain well.
Step 4: Bring it all Together
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add the sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Once boiling, add in all of the fried chicken and the sliced jalapenos. Toss the chicken well into the sauce and jalapeno mixture. Continue to move the chicken about the skillet until the sauce has thickened and the water content has evaporated. Once done, transfer to a plate and garnish.
When it comes to Spicy Jalapeno Chicken, which is very Asian-inspired, you cannot go wrong with rice, which is exactly what I made to go with my portion. And, whenever I have chicken and rice, I have to have a large portion of steamed broccoli to go with it! When I have a very flavourful main, plain and simple sides are the way to go.
Whenever I think of spicy chicken, I always think of coleslaw. Now, if you were to serve coleslaw with this chicken, I have a few options for you. You can keep up the spiciness with my Jalapeno Buttermilk Ranch Coleslaw, or you could go with a more mild option, like this Homestyle Cream Coleslaw. Try wrapping a few pieces of the chicken and coleslaw into a tortilla for a quick, easy, and delicious wrap!
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Spicy Jalapeno Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs *see notes below
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large jalapenos, cut into 1/4 inch slices
- Place the prepared chicken into a bowl with the salt and ground black pepper. Toss to coat well.
- Next, add the cornstarch and toss until all of the chicken is well coated. Set this aside until you are ready to fry the chicken.
- In a separate, smaller bowl, add the soy sauce, water, brown sugar, and garlic and whisk well to combine. Set that aside.
- Next, slice the jalapenos into 1/4 inch slices. If you want a milder taste, you can remove the seeds from the slices. If you want a nice kick, leave them in. Set those aside until ready to use.
- Finally, add four inches of vegetable oil to a heavy bottomed pot. Turn on the heat and heat the oil to 315 degrees F.
- Once the oil is hot, using tongs, lower the chicken into into the oil one piece at a time. Don’t overcrowd the pot. I tend to fry them four or five pieces at a time. The chicken fries really quickly; it only needs about 5-6 minutes, turning at the halfway mark.
- Once all of the chicken is fried, increase the heat of the oil to 350 degrees. Carefully place all of the chicken back into the oil. This is what I refer to as the second fry and it will add further crisp to your chicken and it only needs another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the oil and drain well.
- In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, add the sauce mixture and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, add in all of the fried chicken and the sliced jalapenos. Toss the chicken well into the sauce and jalapeno mixture.
- Continue to move the chicken about the skillet until the sauce has thickened and the water content has evaporated.
- Once done, transfer to a plate and garnish.
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