Braising is the perfect method for cooking on a cooler day. Usually reserved for tough cuts, whole chicken legs are another ideal option. The meat becomes tender while taking on the flavor of the braising liquid. The reserved liquid is then reduced to create a tasty sauce to baste on the chicken and create a beautiful glossy finish. The addition of cilantro rice helps balance out the dish. If you don’t care for cilantro, you can substitute parsley.
4 whole chicken legs (leg and thigh pieces)
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrots, chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed
1 ½” piece of fresh ginger cut into 4-5 thin slices
2 cups 100% orange juice
½ cup white wine
4 bay leaves
5 star anise
For the sauce
3 Tablespoons Hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
½ teaspoon Chinese Five Spice Powder
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon water
2 cups hot, cooked white rice
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro or parsley
4 thinly sliced scallions
Using a vegetable peeler, remove 4 long strips of orange peel off the orange. Try to peel just the surface and avoid getting any of the white pith. Set the orange aside to use as juice and reserve the orange peel strips.
30 minutes before cooking, season the chicken on both sides with kosher salt.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the chicken in an even layer in a shallow oven- proof pan. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until the skin just starts turning golden brown. Remove the chicken from the oven and reduce the heat to 300 degrees. Take the chicken out of the pan and set aside on a plate; cover the chicken to keep warm. Reserving all the drippings in the pan and set the pan on the stovetop over medium heat.
Add the onion to the pan drippings with a pinch of salt and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the carrots, garlic and ginger and sauté for a couple more minutes. Add the wine, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the orange juice, peel, star anise and bay leaves, and then add the chicken back into the pan. The liquid should cover the sides of the chicken. Heat on high to bring to a simmer; cover with a lid or tightly with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes until the internal temperature of the chicken thigh reaches 165 degrees.
Remove the chicken from the oven. Take out of the pan and place, skin side up, on a broiling pan and set aside. Preheat the broiler in your oven.
Strain the remaining liquid through a fine mesh strainer; discarding any solids. Pour the liquid into a cup or fat separator; remove the fat from the liquid. Add the liquid into a clean saucepan; discard the fat. Bring the liquid to a boil on medium high and cook until it is reduced in half. Add the hoisin sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, and chinese five spice. Taste and adjust seasonings and then add the cornstarch and water mixture; simmering until the sauce thickens.
Place the chicken under the broiler and broil carefully until the skin is browned and crisp. Remove from the oven and baste a few times with the warm sauce.
Combine the rice and butter, add the cilantro or parsley and mix completely. Serve with the chicken, topped with scallions, over the cilantro rice and any leftover sauce on the side. Serves 4.