Almond Boneless Chicken (“ABC”)

Mike tried this recipe on August 23, 2020 / Updated June 23, 2024
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This recipe has a story behind it…

A dear friend and former coworker named Heidi had posted a photo on Facebook after she prepared this dish, explaining it was a favorite of hers while growing up in Detroit. But, she said, it didn’t turn out the way she remembered. I asked her to share the recipe she used, and I started doing some research. I learned that this dish (which is often referred to simply by its initials “ABC”) is a local favorite at older family-owned Chinese restaurants in the Detroit area, and it’s almost never offered anywhere else. It’s not purely a Chinese dish, but a Chinese-American one; the chicken is battered and fried like a tempura, but served with a gravy over a bed of lettuce.

After comparing the recipe Heidi sent me with several others I found online, I may have figured out why hers tasted different from what she remembered. So, at the risk of making her upset, I prepared this using a slightly different recipe. I think it turned out pretty well, but I didn’t have anything else to compare it with unless I make her version and try them side by side… and I didn’t have space to store that many leftovers.

I was a bit hesitant to post it, thinking she might get upset for trying to improve on what she had done. But after I did, she left me the following note:

Mike, it looks delicious, and I hope you enjoyed it. I am glad you didn’t do side by side because I don’t think the subtle differences in the recipes would account for the difference in my memory. The next time I am in Detroit I am going to go to the original source of this dish. My father reports that the place is still there, so I will check it out. I suspect that your creation will closely resemble what I find there and that either the dish has changed since my childhood (centuries ago) or my memory is not correct. Anyways, thank you for the great compliment of researching and making this dish.

(Update – June 23, 2024) I learned that my dear friend Heidi passed away on June 15th, 2024 from cancer. She had kept her diagnosis private, and I learned the devastating news from a posting on Heidi’s Facebook page by her daughter. She lived her life as she saw fit, and enjoyed her final years traveling with her husband and doting on her grandson. She was fortunate to see her newborn granddaughter, who arrived just two weeks earlier. My life was all the better from knowing her, and I will miss her terribly.

Adapted from Detroit Free Press

Almond Boneless Chicken (“ABC”)

Difficulty: Intermediate Prep Time 20 mins Cook Time 20 mins Rest Time 5 mins Total Time 45 mins
Servings: 8
Best Season: Suitable throughout the year

Description

This is a Chinese-American dish found almost exclusively in restaurants in the Detroit area, where it's known by its initials "ABC".

Adapted from Detroit Free Press

Ingredients

Chicken

Gravy

Batter

Cooking and Serving

Instructions

  1. Marinate the chicken

    Season the chicken with salt, then place in a zippered plastic bag. Add the sherry and seal the bag. Shake or knead the contents to coat the chicken with the sherry. Set aside to marinate for 10-15 minutes.

  2. Make the gravy

    In a medium saucepan combine the cornstarch and water and stir until smooth. Add the chicken broth, mushrooms (if using), butter, soy sauce, and bouillon. Cook on medium heat, stirring constantly, until boiling; allow to boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat, cover, and set aside where it can stay warm.

  3. Make the batter

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the cornstarch, flour, baking powder, eggs, and water, and mix until smooth (hint: use a spatula rather than a whisk).

  4. Cooking the chicken

    Add cooking oil to a skillet to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat on medium-high to a temperature of 375 F. Remove the chicken from the bag and place in the mixing bowl with the batter, and discard the bag and marinade.

    Batter each piece of chicken and carefully place in the hot skillet. Cook for 5-7 minutes per side or until golden brown, then remove and place on a wire rack to drain or on a plate with paper towels. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

  5. Serving

    To serve, place 1/2 cup of shredded lettuce on a plate. Take one chicken breast and cut diagonally into pieces, then place on top of the lettuce. Top with almonds and green onion (if desired), then cover with gravy and serve.

Nutrition Facts

Servings 8


Amount Per Serving
Calories 349kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13.3g21%
Saturated Fat 5.1g26%
Cholesterol 124mg42%
Sodium 622mg26%
Potassium 159mg5%
Total Carbohydrate 23.2g8%
Dietary Fiber 1.3g6%
Sugars 2.3g
Protein 31.8g64%

Calcium 51 mg
Iron 2 mg
Vitamin D 280 IU

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Notes

  • I made several changes to the recipe as written:
    • Since thin-sliced chicken breasts in my area usually are sold 4 in a package, I increased the number of servings from 6 to 8.
    • I doubled the amount of batter to compensate for the additional servings and to allow for slightly thicker coatings on each piece.
    • The batter was extremely thick; I added a small amount of water to thin it slightly.
  • Cooking Oil - use your favorite (vegetable, canola, corn, etc.)
  • Bouillon substitutions - any of these can be used
    • 3 tablespoons bouillon granules
    • 3 tablespoons bouillon powder
    • 3 tablespoons "Better than Bouillon" paste
    • 9 bouillon cubes (1 cube = 1 teaspoon; 3 cubes = 1 tablespoon)
Keywords: Almond, boneless, chicken, ABC, tempura, fried, gravy, dinner, chinese-american, Detroit
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