a beauty queen she is not but this one pan buffalo chicken and broccoli is a weeknight favorite. protein + vegetable + one pan = winning at weeknight dinner. plus, we’ve got spicy AND sweet going on here, so we basically can’t lose.
truth be told, i usually don’t even like buffalo sauce or things flavored with it but it works for me here. i think it’s because the vinegar and sugar add a bit more depth to the flavor so it’s not just full-on buffalo sauce flavor.
and now that i’m thinking about, we’ve always made this with chicken but as i am right now typing this, it is occurring to me that this would likely be delicious with tofu too. i shall have to try that and report back to you, team. in the meantime, i’ve included my preliminary ideas about how i would replace the chicken with tofu in the notes below the recipe so if you beat me to the punch and try it out, let us know how it goes in the comments, ok? team effort here.
in the meantime though, this original version, with chicken, was recently declared a “top 2 chicken dish” by my husband (the other dish in the top 2 has the word “fried” in the title, so it’s not even really a fair fight). i’m pretty sure he would happily eat chicken for dinner every night, if only i was willing to endure prepping raw chicken that often (it’s just so… yeah, ugh, i can’t even get into it…), so a “top 2” accolade coming from him is pretty legit.
and there you have it: a buffalo flavored dish for those who don’t usually like buffalo sauce and a chicken dish for those who LOVE chicken. also, did i mention? one. pan. because, weeknights.
- 2 2/3 oz. (78 ml / 1/3 cup) buffalo sauce
- 3 ¾ oz. (106.5 g. / ½ cup, not packed) brown sugar (either light or dark)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper, to taste (if you are using “hot” buffalo sauce, taste it before adding any crushed red pepper and adjust accordingly)
- 14 - 16 oz. (2 medium/large crowns with some stem still attached) broccoli, cut into bite size florets/chunks (i chop the stem too) and dried as much as possible
- 16 oz. (453.6 g.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1” chunks
- 1 3/8 oz. (37 g. / 1/3 cup) cornstarch, plus 1 more teaspoon (if necessary)
- 2 large eggs
- 3 tablespoons neutral flavored oil, such as extra light olive oil or vegetable oil
- measure out the buffalo sauce in a glass measuring cup then add the rest of the sauce ingredients to the measuring cup. stir to combine then set aside.
- preheat the oven to 325° F.
- spread your washed and trimmed broccoli out on a clean kitchen towel to dry as much as possible (so that it doesn’t water down the sauce)
- in a large bowl, combine the chicken and cornstarch. toss to coat the chicken evenly with the cornstarch.
- crack the eggs into a medium bowl that is not too large but is wide enough that you can easily dip the pieces of chicken in the egg and retrieve them. scramble the eggs lightly with a fork. dip each piece of chicken in the egg one piece at a time, then set them in a single layer on a plate so the coating doesn’t get all clumped up. discard remaining egg and the corn starch that was in the bowl with the raw chicken.
- in a wide bottomed, oven safe skillet or braiser (i used this one, just for reference), heat the oil over medium heat. when the oil is hot, add the chicken in a single layer. cook for 1 – 2 minutes, until it is beginning to turn lightly golden brown. flip the chicken pieces over and repeat on the other side. once the chicken is lightly browned on both sides, remove from heat (the chicken won’t be fully cooked yet – don’t panic!) and stir in the broccoli and sauce (the sauce will hiss and sizzle). toss everything around to coat the chicken and broccoli in the sauce.
- slide the pan into the oven and bake until the biggest pieces of chicken register 165° F. this usually takes about 10 – 15 minutes.
- remove the pan from the oven and check on your sauce. depending on how dry you were able to get your broccoli, you may need to tilt the pan to one side and add the remaining teaspoon of fresh cornstarch (please don’t use leftover raw chicken cornstarch!) to the sauce. if you do add the cornstarch to the sauce to thicken it up, put the pan back on the stove over high heat for up to 1 minute, stirring constantly to coat the chicken and broccoli. remove from heat as soon as the sauce thickens. at this point, the chicken is thoroughly cooked so we don’t want to overcook it.
i know you’re going to be tempted to skip all of this cornstarch and egg nonsense. i know because i was and, in fact, did. once. the recipe is way better as written. trust me. (or don’t, but you’ll be back to coating and dipping the next time.)
if you like a thicker batter coating on your chicken, i discovered (yes, by accident) that dipping the chicken in the egg first then coating in cornstarch results in a thicker batter coating. you will need more than 1/3 cup of cornstarch if you’re going to do it this way.
(untested!) tofu version: i’m going to try cubing a block of tofu, then baking in on a lightly oiled, foil-lined sheet for about 12 minutes at 400 ° F. to compensate for skipping the egg/cornstarch step, i’ll add probably 2 teaspoons of cornstarch to the sauce. i shall report back…
adapted from damn delicious’ firecracker chicken, which she adapted from the recipe critic, who adapted it from mel’s kitchen café. phew!