The best chicken dish I know – Red Chicken; thoughts on dinner in a few weeks

I think I wrote about it at the time, but I learned this chicken dish while in culinary school last fall.  In our recipe pack it was simply called “Red Chicken”.  The flavors remind me of various duck, chicken and pork dishes served at “authentic” Chinese restaurants I’ve been to.

The recipe as I make it is straightforward and is as follows:

  • 1 chicken cut into 8 pieces
  • 2″ piece of ginger, smashed
  • 6 oz of water (or 3/4 cup)
  • 2 oz of soy sauce (or 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 oz sherry
  • 1 star anise pod

I treat this as a straight-up braise, and brown the chicken on both sides, then deglaze the pan with the mixture of remaining ingredients.  Add the chicken, cover loosely and simmer for 45 minutes or so, flipping the chicken once.  If you need more liquid add more, if not then great.

Once the chicken is done, remove it and reduce the remaining liquid.  If you need to make a slurry of cornstarch and cold water and whisk in, making sure to bring the sauce to a boil.  Taste for salt and pepper and you’re done (the salt should be fine, due to the soy sauce).  If you want to garnish, use some green onions sliced on the bias.

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And now for the thinking out loud portion of this post:

In the not too distant future we’re going to be having one of Erin’s co-workers and her husband over for dinner as a thank you for helping Erin get the job and hence us moving here (plus it would be nice to meet some other people).

They’ll be coming over a few Sundays from now and have (as far as we know) no dietary restrictions or dislikes.

For the first course – an amuse bouche if you will – I’m probably going to make a blistered corn soup served on a spoon with popcorn dusted with truffle salt spread around the plate.  I’ve made this once before with Brian for Erin and Sara, and it was delicious.

For the second course I’m thinking of scallops (seared), maybe with a veloute of late summer vegetables.  I’m not really sure what else would go with this and I may even go with an Asian flavor profile for this course, I’m not really all that sure.

Course three I think I want to do a braise, but of what I have no idea.  I’ve already blown through the veal stock I was given when we first moved down here, so maybe not, though I could try to get some veal bones before then, or make a brown chicken stock.  Decisions, decisions.  Of course there would need to be some sort of starch on the plate, maybe the infamous potato pave from Charlie Trotter or a polenta cake of some kind.

As for dessert, I’ve already decided to make individual cheesecakes with a strawberry coulis.  So at least I don’t have to wrestle with this for the next few weeks.

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