Beer-Braised Sichuan Chicken

18. February 2013 Chicken 1

This Henan Chinese recipe was adapted from Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food, a Sichuan restaurant that opened in New York City with a lot of promise but, to me, lacking of flavor. I looked forward to the San Francisco-based restaurant opening here, but when I finally made it with my friend Lauren, I was disappointed that there was no depth to the spiciness of their dishes.

Sichuan food tops my list of favorite cuisines and I’ve always tried to cook it at home. They require a lot of ingredients, but once you buy them, you won’t have to do it again any time soon. (Well, unless you cook as much as I do.)

With the dried chiles and Sichuan peppercorns I smuggled from my trip to Bhutan, the search for good spicy recipes has been resurrected. I think toasting the spices here is key even though the original recipe didn’t call for it–maybe that’s what I mean when I think of depth of flavor. Before I ladled to serve, I used a flour sifter to strain the spices from the liquid. (I didn’t have a fine-enough strainer.) You can use a spice bag if you have it handy, but I wanted all of the flavor to fully soak while cooking.

Oh, this is probably the only time I’ve ever bought Budweiser, too! Any lager-style beer like Tsingtao is okay as well.

8 chicken pieces
1 1/2 tbsps salt
2 tbsps fish sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
5 pieces dried red chiles, toasted
2 tbsps Sichuan peppercorns, toasted
2 tbsps fennel seeds, toasted
2 tbsps cumin seeds, toasted
2 pcs star anise, toasted
4 pods green cardamom, toasted
2 tbsps Sriracha hot sauce
2 cups chicken stock
16 oz can of Budweiser
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
a handful of fingerling potatoes, washed
a handful of parsley, roughly chopped

1. In a large bowl, season chicken with salt and fish sauce and let sit 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, set a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add oil. Once oil is hot, work in batches to brown both sides of chicken pieces, about 6 minutes per batch, transferring chicken to another bowl as you go.
3. Return chicken to pot, increase heat to high and add all remaining ingredients except the parsley. Bring pot up to a rolling boil, cover and cook until chicken and potatoes are tender and sauce is reduced, about 20 minutes.
4. Before serving to a bowl, use a fine strainer to get rid of all the solid spices and discard.

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