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2000s Recipes + Menus

Braised Chicken with Smoked Ham, Chestnuts, and Ginger

  • Active time:1 hr
  • Start to finish:1 1/2 hr (plus 1 day for marinating)
October 2008
Ginger and Shaoxing rice wine give a deep, round intensity to chicken, turning it into something sumptuous. The salty savor of country ham and chewy, dense chestnuts help make each forkful a hit.

For Marinated Chicken

  • 2 3/4 cups water
  • 12 dried Chinese black mushrooms
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup sliced ginger
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing wine or dry Oloroso Sherry
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 small chickens (2 1/2 to 3 lb), each cut into 6 pieces (legs, thighs, and breasts without backbones)

For Cooking Chicken and Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons corn oil
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 Tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 cup finely julienned peeled ginger
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup Shaoxing wine or dry Oloroso Sherry
  • 2 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 Tbsp cold water, divided
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 7 to 8 oz bottled roasted chestnuts
  • 1/4 lb thinly sliced country ham or speck
  • Accompaniment:

    steamed jasmine rice

Marinate chicken 1 day ahead:

  • Bring water to a simmer in a small saucepan, then stir in mushrooms and simmer 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then strain through a sieve into a large bowl. Discard stems, then chill mushroom caps, covered, until ready to braise chicken. Stir remaining marinade ingredients into mushroom liquid, then add chicken and marinate, chilled, stirring occasionally, 1 day.

Brown chicken in 3 batches and make sauce:

  • Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry (discard marinade).
  • Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Just before browning each batch of chicken, sprinkle with 1 tsp kosher salt. Brown, skin side down first, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  • Pour off all but 1 Tbsp oil from skillet, then reduce heat to medium-low and sauté ginger, stirring, 1 minute (do not brown). Add white wine and Shaoxing and boil until reduced by three fourths, about 5 minutes. Add broth, 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, soy sauce, white pepper, and remaining 2 tsp kosher salt and bring to a simmer.
  • Combine cornstarch and remaining 2 Tbsp cold water and whisk into sauce, then boil 1 minute.

Braise Chicken

  • Transfer chicken, skin side up, to a 6- to 8-qt heavy pot (place white meat on top). Add sauce, chestnuts, and reserved mushroom caps. Gently simmer, covered, until chicken is just cooked through, 15 to 25 minutes.
  • Cut breasts in half and return to pot. Add ham. Gently simmer 3 minutes more.
Cooks’ notes:
  • Braised chicken can be made 1 day ahead and chilled (covered once cool). Reheat before serving.
  • We’ve also got a web-exclusive recipe using the leftover country ham or speck.