If there's a single food that reminds me of my dad's cooking, it might be Fire and Smoke Chicken. While the name is a misnomer (there is neither fire nor smoke involved in the preparation), the chicken does turn a deep burnished reddish brown, with delightfully crisp skin and a little heat from crushed red pepper.
We're not sure why it's called Fire and Smoke Chicken. My sister thinks my dad got it from a cookbook called "Fire and Smoke." My mom speculated that he might have just named it that for dramatic flourish. In our family's cookbook, the recipe appears, but called, dully, Oven Baked Chicken, a name that conjures up chicken breasts baked in cream of mushroom soup, not the crackling, sweet and slightly peppery Fire and Smoke Chicken of my childhood.
Everyone who has ever tried this recipe goes crazy for it, and it couldn't simpler. You can use a whole chicken cut up, as my dad did. My sister likes to make it for potlucks and parties and use wings. I do it with whole legs or simply thighs. I think the only rule is that the chicken should have bone and skin. Otherwise, you really don't get the full experience.
Last week I served Fire and Smoke Chicken with plain rice, and made extra for fried rice to go with the leftovers later. The chicken is good hot, room temperature, or cold.
Fire and Smoke Chicken
1/3 c. soy sauce
1/3 c. rice vinegar
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. granulated sugar
3 T. hoisin
3 cloves garlic, smashed
2 T. peanut or vegetable oil
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 cut-up chicken or 8-12 pieces of your choice
Combine all marinade ingredients and pour over chicken, turning to coat. Marinate 1 hour, turning 2 or 3 times.
Preheat oven to 325. Place chicken skin-side up on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake 15-20 minutes. Turn and baste. Increase the temperature to 350 and bake 15 minutes. Turn and baste. Increase temperature to 375 and bake 10-15 minutes. Baste. Finally, with skin-side up, broil 2-3 minutes to get the skin crispy.
This marinade can be used for pork, duck, or shrimp.
My dad used to boil the marinade on the stove and serve it alongside the chicken at the table. Probably not everyone would agree that that's safe to eat. But, that's what my dad did and we ate the chicken and the sauce and no one ever got sick. So, it doesn't scare me.
Up next: fried rice.