The provenance of this recipe is from a steakhouse at the St Regis in Dubai although similar black pepper sauces can be found at others. And while it's usually an accompaniment for steak, it's so utterly delicious and versatile that I've paired it with chicken. Both as a stir fry if you want something fast or whole skin on pieces.
Now I should explain something. Black pepper sauce is nothing like the green peppercorn sauce that goes with your steak. This is quite different but even more delicious IMHO. The base of flavours here are onion, garlic, ginger, black pepper and soy with a hit of sugar and lime juice too. And it is was so delicious I pestered them so much for the recipe as I wanted to eat it again and I obviously couldn't fly to Dubai for a meal (although do you ever daydream about that? I do).
I made this dish two ways: as whole skin on pieces of chicken as well as a stir fried using chicken thigh fillets. I think I actually preferred the stir fry as it allowed the juices to concentrate even more but the big pieces were great too.
Speaking of chicken dishes we recently went over for dinner at Celia and Pete's. When Mochi passed away Celia reached out to me and invited me to lunch but when I couldn't do that we decided that dinner was in order. She had made a gorgeous smoked chicken in Rosie, her Traeger bbq. It was hands down the best smoked chicken I've ever eaten and was a great quality chicken cooked perfectly on low heat and then slightly browned at the end.
It had been many years since I saw her sons Big Boy and Small Man. The last time Small Man was still at school and I think I still expected them to be the same but of course they weren't. They were fully grown and formed (ok that sounds strange but I always feel like kids, even teens may grow even more). And Big Boy was about to become engaged (spoiler, they just got engaged!). And when I was a teenager I used to roll my eyes at my mother's friends who would say "Oh wow you've grown!" (my internal dialogue was "duh!") and now I found myself saying it to them. Thankfully they were too polite to roll their eyes at me!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you find yourself doing things that you thought you'd never do as a kid? Have you ever tried this black pepper sauce before? Do you daydream about flying to other countries for a meal? Where is the first place you would go?
Black Pepper Chicken
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes (45 minutes sauce, 1 hour chicken)
Black Pepper Sauce (makes 2.5 cups)
- Oil for frying
- 200g/7ozs. onions, very finely chopped
- 125g/4ozs. garlic cloves, peeled and very finely chopped
- 100g/3.5ozs. ginger, peeled and very finely chopped
- 4-5 tablespoons ground black pepper
- 325ml/11.5flozs. soy sauce
- 200g/7ozs. white sugar
- 75ml/2.7ozs. lime juice
- Salt to taste
- 1kg/2.2lbs of chicken (whole pieces or diced)
- 200g/7ozs. snow peas
- 2 stalks green shallots, cut into inch long pieces
Tip: this sauce is best when the onions, garlic and ginger are very finely chopped. Mine is chopped a little coarser than I would have liked.
Step 1 - Fry the onion, garlic and ginger in enough oil (I start with 2 tablespoons and keep adding when needed) on low to medium heat until soft-this will take around 8-10 minutes or so. Add the black pepper, soy sauce, sugar and lime juice. Simmer until the sauce becomes thick and viscous (around 20-30 minutes). Cool completely.
Step 2 - Preheat oven to 180C/350F and marinate the chicken pieces in 1 cup of the sauce for 30 minutes (if you are using diced chicken for a stir fry see instructions below). Place the pieces in a baking dish and bake for 55 minutes basting once or twice with sauce during that time. Add the snow peas and shallots and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve with rice or flatbread.
Step 3 - For a chicken stir fry, I marinate the chicken in the sauce and then fry it off in a wok adding vegetables right at the end.