Coming of age in the High Mall Era meant the food court was the first stop before buying a new halter top or catching Freddie Prinze Jr.’s latest flick. Despite being a mall regular, I always debated between choosing the oversized pizza slice or sticky-sweet chicken teriyaki. Chicken teriyaki always won. Today, I rarely make it into a mall, but on days when my energy is low and the need to feed my family is high, the urge for chicken teriyaki takeout is strong.
Although the name hints at Japanese ancestry (teri means to shine, and yaki to broil or grill), this is clearly a busy mom’s take on the ubiquitous mall chicken with barely a whiff of authenticity. Chicken teriyaki might not seem like an obvious weeknight meal, but teriyaki sauce is just a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sweetener, garlic, and ginger, thickened with a simple cornstarch slurry. Once I realized that I’m much more likely to have those things in my pantry than a bottle of the pre-made stuff, this meal has been a staple on my dinner table.
Go Thighs for the Slow Cooker
Chicken thighs are the right choice for this take on takeout because their meaty flavor isn’t overshadowed by the rich teriyaki sauce and they are more forgiving than chicken breasts, consistently remaining juicy after a couple of hours in the slow cooker. That said, if you’ve only got chicken breasts on hand, you can substitute them with no change in prep or cook time — just be sure to check doneness with a thermometer.
Slow-cooking chicken thighs in a homemade honey teriyaki sauce means the meat slowly soaks up the flavor without requiring my full attention. To finish, I simmer the sauce to concentrate the flavors, then thicken it with a mixture of cornstarch and water. The result is tender, juicy chicken dressed in a gloriously sticky glaze. The teriyaki sauce is what you’re here for, and don’t worry — there’s plenty of it to toss with leftover chicken or to dress up steamed broccoli and rice the next day.
1 lbs chicken, diced
1 cup chicken broth
½ cup teriyaki sauce
⅓ cup brown sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1. Combine chicken broth, teriyaki sauce, brown sugar and garlic cloves in large bowl.
2. Add chicken to sauce, and toss to combine.
3. Pour chicken mixture into crock-pot.
4. Cook on low 4-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through.
5. Serve over hot cooked rice and spoon extra sauce if desired.