Over the Christmas holidays, Jackson headed downtown on his own with a group of friends. They took a bus and two subways into the city, his pockets packed full of gifts cards given to him by his grandparents. The plan was to visit a favourite comic book store, do some shopping at the mall, and buy a late lunch before heading home. Naturally, I was nervous letting him go, but Rob’s been pushing for the boys to become a little more subway savvy for quite a while now, so I checked my nervousness at the door and set him off with strict, maybe even slightly psychotic, reminders to let me know the minute he made it off the train safely.
When he returned home a few hours later, shopping bags in hand, I wanted to hear ALL the details of his outing, but he only wanted to talk about what he ate for lunch. Apparently bourbon chicken is not only the best thing he’s ever eaten, but they have this amazing deal that when you order it you get a choice of two sides, rice and a vegetable, and they let you choose French fries as your veggie side! I’m not sure I’m adequately capturing his excitement, but I’m certain you can imagine how thrilled he was to learn that in a food court French fries count as vegetables.
I learned a long time ago that instead of critiquing what the boys consume when they’re out with their friends, I have to accept that they are not going to go for the salad or nutritiously well-balanced meal when so many other crave-worthy choices are staring them straight in the face. In fact, it’s pretty much the exact opposite of what’s going to happen, but I can take what they talk about eating and enjoying and make my own spin on it, showing them that it is possible to have their beloved bourbon chicken at home. I like to serve my version with sensible side dishes like rice and roasted broccoli, made crisp and salty so it kind of mimics those coveted French fries, though I’m sure it doesn’t even come close.
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1/3 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup oil (canola, olive, vegetable, coconut)
- 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup bourbon
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
- Optional: 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 2 teaspoons of water
- 3 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on both sides; transfer to a plate.
2. Add another tablespoon of oil and sauté the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds. Add in the remaining ingredients and whisk until blended and the sugar dissolved.
3. Return the chicken to the skillet and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes. The sauce should thicken considerably, but if it happens to be too thin for your tastes, whisk together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and pour it into the skillet. Stir well to combine and cook for an additional minute or two, or until the sauce thickens. When cooked, spoon the chicken over hot rice or noodles and sprinkle with the green onions. Serve with a side of vegetables (not French fries).