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Celebrating Chinese New Year with Tea Braised Chicken

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To truly experience the wondrous joy of Chinese New Year (this year being the Year of the Horse), one must surround themselves with color, joy, laughter and great food. You don't have to be Chinese to celebrate this festive time of the year and many cities across American will be holding parades to honor the Year of the Horse during the 15-day celebration. Personally, I can't think of a better way of celebrating than with some classic dishes from China (real Chinese food, not Americanized Chinese food).

Braising is a slow form of cooking in liquid. It is quite an easy task as you just put the pan in the oven for a few hours and forget about it! Braising is also an ancient way of cooking and considering the two cuisines we are fusing, this seems like a perfect fit. So when I came up with this dish, the process of preparation was no problem. The problem was, what do I do as far as ingredients. There can be no taste clash. There can be no texture clash. So, with this in mind, I concentrated on the Chinese cuisine known as Cantonese.

Tea is an intricate part of Chinese life in and out of the kitchen. The Chinese also rely heavily on fowl (chicken). So when everything came together I knew I wanted a braised dish featuring fowl and with tea being the complimentary factor. The final result was this dish: Tea Braised Chicken.

There is nothing special you will have to do to prepare this dish other than chop off the elongated bone on the chicken legs.

Ingredients needed to make Tea Braised Chicken (serves 2):

  • 8 chicken legs
  • 1 cup very strong tea
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. Chinese 5-spice powder
  • 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil

Steps:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Remove the elongated bone from the chicken legs.
  3. Place the chicken into a large saute pan or skillet.
  4. Pour the tea over the chicken and place the Chinese green onions and garlic into the pan.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, 5-spice powder and sesame oil. Pour this mixture over the chicken.
  6. Place a lid on the pan, place in the oven and braise 2 hours.
  7. Remove the pan from the oven and serve the chicken with ramen noodles or steamed jasmine rice.

The internationally bestselling cookbook from Chef Larry Edwards, "Edwardian Cooking: 80 Recipes Inspired by Downton Abbey's Elegant Meals," is now in it's third printing and available worldwide in both hard cover and e-book versions. The paperback version will be released March 4, 2014.

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