Red-Cooked Chicken

My oven stopped working a few weeks ago (I can only broil), so I’ve been limping along making stove-top dishes until I can get General Electric to come and fix the oven. I picked today’s dinner based solely on my ability to braise the chicken without my oven (the preferred braising method). In the end, the chicken was perfectly cooked. But the skin that I so carefully browned in step 3 turned out soggy by the end of cooking. I’m undecided if, next time, I will remove the skin prior to cooking. The recipe requires vastly different cooking times for white and dark meat, and because my white meat only needed 20-minutes, the sauce had not sufficiently reduced. I ended up with 2 cups of weak sauce. If you are only cooking white meat, then I’d recommend reducing the sauce after removing the chicken to concentrate the flavors.  Overall, 3-1/2 stars. Had the sauce been more concentrated, I would have rated it higher.

Red cooking is a form of Chinese braising, but mine is more brown than red

Red cooking is a form of Chinese braising, but mine is more brown than red


  1. The recipe also called for a few specialty ingredients, which I did not use. Chris Kimball uses Dark Soy Sauce and Sichuan peppercorns; both of which require a trip to an Asian market. I used regular soy sauce and added 1 tablespoon of molasses. Chris Kimball says that you can just substitute regular Soy Sauce (he doesn’t mention the molasses) but warns that the flavors will be blander. Afterwards, I found this recipe or this recipe that may make for a better substitution.
  2. As I mentioned above, there was way too much sauce, and it’s flavors were not sufficiently concentrated. It may also be that I used regular soy sauce. I modified step 9 with my suggestion about reducing the sauce (my not be necessary if you use Dark Soy Sauce).
  3. This was my first meal that I’ve cooked using whole Star Anise. It was $4 in my spice aisle, but I found a $1 package in the Mexican aisle.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars
Cost: $6
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Started: 4:30 PM.  Ready:  6:00 PM

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

4 lbs bone-in, skin-on chicken pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 medium garlic cloves
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (about 2-1/2″ piece)
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
3 star anise
1/2-cup dark soy sauce
1/3-cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4-cup Chinese rice cooking wine or dry sherry
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
4 hard-cooked eggs

  1. Hard boil the four eggs by placing in a pan of cold water, slowing bringing it up to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, the remove from burner and allow to sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, trim your chicken pieces on any excess fat. If you are using chicken breasts, slice them in half crosswise. Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry.
  3. Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high burner and pre-heat 2 tablespoons of oil until it just begins to smoke. Brown the chicken in two batches, about 6 to 8 minutes per side. I used a splatter-screen to reduce the mess. As the pot heats up, you may need to reduce the flame to prevent the pan from scorching. When the chicken is browned, put it on a clean plate while you brown the second batch of chicken.
  4. Meanwhile, peel and press your 6 garlic cloves into a small cup or bowl along with peppercorns and star anise. Mince or grate your fresh ginger, which should give you 2 tablespoons, and add in with the garlic. Peel your hard-boiled eggs so that they are ready for step 7.
  5. Pour off any excess oil, leaving about 1 tablespoon in your Dutch oven. Add the garlic/ginger/peppercorn/anise to the pot and saute for 30 seconds.
  6. Add 1/2-cup soy sauce, 1/3-cup chicken broth, 1/4-cup rice wine, toasted sesame oil, and brown sugar. Use the liquid to deglaze your pan.
  7. If you are cooking a mixture of dark and white meat, add the thighs and drumsticks 40 minute prior to adding the white meat (and eggs). Set chicken in braising liquid, bring up to a simmer, cover, and reduce burner to medium-low. The dark meat will need a total of 60 minutes, and the white meat will need just 20 minutes. Add the hard-boiled eggs with the white meat. Flip the chicken and eggs half-way through cooking.
  8. Once the chicken has reached the desired internal temperature (165-degrees for white and 175-degrees for dark meat), remove chicken and eggs to a serving platter and tent loosely with aluminum foil.
  9. If you are cooked dark meat, then the hour of cooking time will have sufficiently reduced the sauce. However, if you only white meat, allow the chicken to rest in a 200-degree oven to cook it warm and turn up burner to medium-high and reduce for 8 to 10 minutes to concentrate the flavors of the sauce. Skim as much fat as possible from the sauce, and pour it over the chicken and eggs, serving any remaining sauce separately.
My first time cooking with whole star anise

My first time cooking with whole star anise

2 Responses to Red-Cooked Chicken

  1. Anna says:

    In some Red Sauce recipes I’ve read, they mention saving the sauce for re-use over and over, and that it just gets better over time. Just thought I”d throw that out there, in case it was an unfamiliar idea.

  2. Cathleen says:

    I almost always have trouble with too much liquid for a braise recipe, esp., with CI. I start out using about 1/3 less broth or water than they call for and add more if needed. When the meat or chicken is cooking it also exudes extra liquid. Love your blog!

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