Chinese Chicken Curry

3 1/2 lb. chicken, plus 2 pieces chicken breast

cornstarch

Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

4 cups plus 2 T peanut oil

4 tsp minced garlic

4 tsp minced ginger

1/4 to 1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper

2 cups chicken stock (made from the backs, etc. Augment with canned stock if necessary)

2 rounded T Vietnamese curry powder (the kind with bay leaves in it)

2 to 3 small bay leaves (from the curry powder bottle)

1 1/2 large onions, peeled and cut in chunks

1/2 lb mushrooms, quartered

2 T Chinese soy sauce

4 T cornstarch, combined in a small bowl with:

                  2 T Chinese rice wine or dry sherry

                  2 T chicken stock

salt, to taste

Cut the chicken into small pieces, bone and all. Put the ribs, back, wing tips, drumstick ends and giblets (but not the liver) in a pot with enough water to cover, and simmer to make stock. Wash the chicken and pat each peice dry with paper towels. Sprinkle each piece with cornstarch and mix well in a bowl with enough wine to moisten. Have the bowl ready near the stove.

Heat the 4 cups of peanut oil in a wok until it just begins to smoke. Fry the chicken 4 to 6 pieces at a time until golden brown. Drain in a srainer set over a paper towel. Let the oil return to high heat before adding more chicken after each batch. When done, pour off the oil and wipe out the wok. Set all the ingredients within reach of the stove.

Heat the 2 T of peanut oil in the wok and stir-fry the garlic and ginger afew seconds. Add the cayenne and stir-fry one or two seconds, the add the chicken and mix well, then transfer everything to a large, heavy stock pot or cassarole. Over medium heat, add the 2 cups chicken stock, stirring constantly. Add the curry powder and bay leaves, and stir to mix in thoroughly. Add the onions and mushrooms. Bring to a simmer, cover, and simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken is tender. Add the soy sauce, stir, and simmer one or two minutes. Remove from the heat ( you can fish out the bay leaves at this point, if you wish) and add the cornstarch mixture, stirring it in thoroughly. Taste and add salt, if necessary. Serve while hot with plenty of white rice.

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