Nonetheless, I miss the cold. People often complain about the cold and inconvenience that winter brings. Somehow, the light reflected from white snow, the sight of billowing smoke from chimneys, and the minty fresh air contrasted with the warmth of the indoors gives me a sense of coziness that nothing but this freezing season can replicate.
In Europe, chestnut is their Christmas food. Chestnut braised chicken is a dish that my mom used to make for dinner. My favourite part of the dish is not the chicken, but the chestnuts. I love chestnuts for their warm, woody flavour. Braised with chicken wings, these little round drops soaks up the sweetness of the meat. Some of the chestnuts melt from the heat in the pot and turns into this chestnut sauce that I love to mix into a bowl of white rice, turning it into a wonderfully fragrant side.
CHESTNUT BRAISED CHICKEN WINGS (makes 4-6 servings)
- Marinade for chicken wings:
- Light soy sauce – 3-4 tsp
- Sugar – 1 tsp
- Corn starch – 2 tsp
- Xiao Xing cooking wine – 2 tbsp
- Chicken wings – 2 lbs (approximately 20 pieces of chicken wings and/or drumsticks)
- Cooked chestnuts, peeled – about 500 g
- Oyster sauce – to taste (about 2-3 tablespoons)
- Dark soy sauce – to taste (about 2-3 tablespoons)
- A kettle of hot water – about 1.7 litres
- Marinate the chicken wings with the light soy sauce, sugar, corn starch, and Xiao Xing cooking wine for at least 30 minutes.
- In a wok, or a large pan with a similar shape, add some cooking oil and set the stove to medium heat. When the oil is heated (you can tell if it is runnier in the pan. Oil is less runny when it is cold), place the chicken wings into the pan and pan fry them on medium-low heat (so that they don’t burn too fast) until each side is golden brown. (Note: The meat doesn’t have to be cooked through yet at this stage. It will be fully cooked when it’s braised).
- Transfer the chicken wings to a dutch oven or a cooking pot. Add the chestnuts into the pot. Stir to distribute the chestnuts evenly amongst the chicken wings. Add the oyster sauce evenly and stir again so that it evenly coats the meat and chestnuts. (I transfer it to a dutch oven/cooking pot because it retains heat better, and so the flavours are deeper and the chicken wings are more tender. But this is a personal choice. You can also leave it in the wok and cover it with a lid, and if it is big enough to hold the water, chicken wings, and chestnuts.)
- Add the hot water to the pot until it just covers the chicken wings and the chestnuts by about 1 cm. Place the lid on to the pot. Turn to high heat until the water comes to a rolling boil. Then turn it to low heat or medium low heat until it comes to a constant simmer. With the lid on, let the wings and chestnuts braise for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the pot. Add more water if water level becomes too low. The water should not be lower than the level of the contents in the pot.
- Open the lid and give the contents a stir so the flavours and seasoning are evenly distributed. Add two swirls of dark soy sauce for final seasoning. Stir again to distribute the soy sauce in the pot. Close the lid again and let it braise for another 15 minutes for the soy sauce to be cooked into the meat.
- At this point, you may either eat it right away, or leave the dish for at least 3 hours (overnight is best) on the stove/at room temperature for the flavours to really marinate into the chicken wings. (Leaving it overnight makes an enormous difference and I strongly recommend it. The residual heat slightly melts the chestnuts, the sauce thickens, and the chicken wings become so tender. The flavours of the chestnut sauce also thoroughly infuse into the meat.)
(This recipe is posted first at http://www.yuenshan.com)