“Sesame Braised Chicken In A Pot with Shitake, Daikon and Ginger”

You may be wondering why I have the name of the dish above in quotation marks. Or maybe you aren’t in which case we need to discuss your lack of intellectual curiosity, so there! On a related note, we should come out with some way to show when you mean them to be “air quotes”, that annoying habit that people have of making quotation marks with their fingers while telling a story. Or, since they’re “annoying” (air quotes), maybe we shouldn’t. Now you may be wondering, “Isn’t this a food blog?” The answer to that would be yes, but it’s my food blog which means that inane ramblings are a vital ingredient (see what I did there?) in every post.

So back to the quotation marks in the title: The NY Times had a recipe for this great one pot meal in the dining section a couple of weeks ago. See the original here. As I read it I realized that it was essentially Velvet Chicken, an old Chinese food dish. So I sort of improvised, splitting the difference between Melissa Clark’s Sesame Braised Chicken and a classic Velvet Chicken. Credit where it’s due, the addition of the mushrooms and daikon was inspired. The braising process infused them with flavor and leaves a texture more velvety than the chicken. She also browns her chicken, a step that can be left out if you’re looking for the true ease and convenience of a one pot meal, however, one that imparts a great caramelized flavor. I replaced the dry sherry called for in her recipe with Xiao Hsing cooking wine (alternately spelled Shao Hsing and a million other permutations). Also, I inexcusably forgot to buy ginger. Big deal? It’s in the title so I’m gonna go ahead and guess it is. To compensate I added the zest on an orange to impart a bit of fruity acidity. It worked out rather nicely.

My ingredients were as follows:

  • 2 bunches scallions, white and pale green parts thinly sliced, green tops sliced and separated
  • Canola oil
  • Sesame oil
  • 1 lb. daikon radish, peeled and cut into 1 inch chuncks
  • 1/2 cup sliced shitake mushroom caps
  • 4 smashed garlic cloves
  • Zest of one orange, chopped
  • 1 whole chicken (3 1/3- 3 1/2 lbs.)
  • 1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup Shaoxing wine (See? Another spelling)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 4 whole star anise pods
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar
  • 6-8 Sichuan peppercorns
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 450°.

In a six quart dutch oven heat 2 tablespoons canola oil and 1 tablespoon sesame oil over medium high heat. Add the scallion bottoms, mushrooms, daikon and garlic, cooking until golden, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Remove vegetable using a slotted spoon and raise the heat to high.

Pat chicken dry and season inside and out with salt and pepper. Add a bit more  canola oil and brown chicken on all sides, turning when each side is well browned. Turn chicken breast side up and scatter vegetables around it. Add the shaoxing wine, chicken stock, soy sauce, star anise, peppercorns and orange zest. Cover tightly and cook 50-60 minutes.

Remove chicken, skim fat off the surface of the liquid and stir in vinegar and scallion tops.

Carve chicken and serve with vegetables and sauce.

This was as great as it was simple and convenient. Hearty yet light. Many thanks to Melissa Clark for the recipe I cannibalized.


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