Saturday, October 22, 2011

Soy-Braised Chicken Thighs with Star Anise and Citrus Peel

I didn't cook at all for the two year anniversary of this blog. In fact, I didn't even have a decent meal that day. Instead, I managed to get myself checked into the emergency room. This recipe is from immediately prior to that fun adventure. It's fairly simple to make (although I mostly supervised), but the braising does take a bit of time. As a bonus, it relies mostly on ingredients I generally have on hand. I did substitute regular onions for scallions and lime zest for orange peel to avoid a trip to the store, but I don't think the flavour suffered much. The original (unscaled recipe) is included below. I hope when this blog turns 3, I'll be feeling well enough to cook a delicious meal!

One year ago: Cosmopolitan Cupcakes
Two years ago: The original raspberry cheesecake brownie

Soy-Braised Chicken Thighs with Star Anise and Citrus Peel (from All About Braising)

2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp chicken stock or water
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
3 scallions
3 tbsp peanut oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 dried small red chile pepper, such as chile de arbol
3 strips orange zest (3" x 3/4")
1 whole star anise
2 tsp cornstarch

1. Heat oven to 325F.
2. In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, vinegar, fish sauce, sugar, and 1/4 stock or water. Set aside.
3. Rinse chicken pieces with cool water and thoroughly dry them with paper towels.
4. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until oil shimmers.
5. Add chicken pieces (in batches if they don't all fit at once), skin side down, and sear, without disturbing, until the skin is crispy and bronzed, about 6 minutes. Lift a corner of a chicken thigh to see that it's nicely browned before turning the pieces carefully. Brown the other side, another 6 minutes or so.
6. Transfer chicken to a large plate to capture any juices.
7. Coarsely chop the scallions, separating the white and green parts. Set aside greens for the finish.
8. Pour off and discard all fat from the pan. Return the pan to medium heat, add remaining tbsp of oil and then add the white parts of the scallions, garlic, ginger, and chile pepper. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
9. Pour in reserved soy mixture and stir to combine. Add orange zest and start anise.
10. Set chicken thighs in pan and add any juices that have accumulated on the plate.
11. Cover pan with parchment paper, pressing down so that the paper nearly touches the chicken and the edges extend about an inch over the sides of the pan. Cover with a secure lid and set pan in lower third of the oven.
12. After 15 minutes. turn the chicken pieces with tongs and check to make sure there's at least 1/4" of liuid in the pan. If not, add a few tbsp of stock or water.
13. Continue braising until chicken is fork-tender, a total of 30 - 35 minutes.
14. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a serving platter, without crowding the pieces too closely, and cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
15. Set pan over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Skim off any surface fat. Add scallion greens.
16. Put cornstarch in a small bowl, add remaining tbsp of stock or water and whisk briefly. Pour the mixture into the simmering liquid, stirring.
17. Pour any juices the chicken thighs have released into the sauce and simmer for just another minute.
18. Spoon the sauce over the thighs and serve.

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