This is a brighter tasting meal than your usual pot roasts and stews, so perfect for autumn or rainy days. Soy-Braised Chicken is sometimes called "red-cooked chicken". We always serve it with brown rice and the zested orange cut into slices. The only two things you could have any trouble finding are the star anise and the Szechuan peppercorns -- and you know what? If you can't find them, leave them out. It will still be delicious.
Hands-On Time: 10 minutes
Ready In: 2 hours
Yield: 4 servings
3 or so pounds of bone-in, skinless chicken parts (we use a dozen thighs)
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 cups soy sauce
1/3 cup dry sherry or Chinese rice wine
6 quarter-size coins fresh ginger, smashed with the side of a heavy knife
4 fat scallions, cut into 1-inch nuggets and smashed
1 1/2 whole star anise, broken into their individual points
1/3 cups sugar
1-2 cinnamon sticks, broken up a bit (don't substitute ground)
zest of 1/2 orange
1/2 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
- While you deal with the chicken (skinning it, e.g.), bring the rest of the ingredients to a simmer in a large pot over high heat.
- Turn the heat down and add the chicken, then cover the pot and cook at a mild simmer for up to 2 hours; the chicken will be fully cooked after less than an hour, but we like the shreddy, salty, falling-apartness of the longer cooking.
- Serve the chicken with some of its sauce spooned over the rice. Refrigerate leftovers in its sauce, which will turn gelatinous when cold. When all the chicken is eaten up, heat and strain the sauce, then store it in a container in the freezer.
We use skinless bone-in chicken thighs in this dish, because they are so inexpensive and delicious. But you could use any skinless, bone-in parts you like: I used to have the butcher cut up a whole chicken into 10 pieces, and that was also a wonderful way to prepare this recipe. The beauty here is that you don't even have to brown anything: it all goes right into the pot and simmers away for a couple of hours, unattended. Truly easy.
When freezing the leftovers, write this on the masking-tape label: "Master Sauce for chicken. Add 1 cup of broth, 1 cup of soy sauce, and all aromatics before using". Like a sourdough starter, it gets better and better over time.