Sichuan cuisine is known for its unapologetically bold flavors, which we thought would translate well to a simple braise. We opted to use meaty chicken leg quarters, which could stand up to the powerful flavors in the sauce, along with shiitake mushrooms for textural contrast. Scallions, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes made for a fragrant base, while oyster sauce added savoriness without making the dish overly salty. Braising the chicken skin side up in an uncovered Dutch oven on a high oven rack allowed the heat to reflect off the oven’s top, helping crisp the skin on the chicken. For authentic flair, we stirred in a generous 2 teaspoons of Sichuan peppercorns: The spice’s floral, almost lemony flavor and the unique tingling sensation it produced on the tongue offset the richness of the dish. Toasted sesame oil and a pinch of sugar rounded out the flavors. You can substitute 8 (5- to 7-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs for the leg quarters, if desired. Depending on the size of your Dutch oven, you may need to brown the chicken in two batches. Serve over rice.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- Total Time: 1 Hour 45 Minutes
- 4 (10-ounce) chicken leg quarters, trimmed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced thin
- 6 scallions, white parts minced, green parts sliced thin
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 cup water, plus extra as needed
- ¼ cup oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns, toasted and ground
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Heat vegetable oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place chicken, skin side down, in pot and cook until skin is crisped and well browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer chicken, skin side up, to plate.
- Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pot. Add mushrooms and cook over medium heat until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in scallion whites, garlic, ginger, and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in water and oyster sauce, scraping up any browned bits, and bring to simmer.
- Nestle chicken into pot, adding any accumulated juices and keeping skin above surface of sauce. Transfer pot to oven and cook, uncovered, until chicken registers 195 degrees, about 1 hour.
- Remove pot from oven and transfer chicken to serving platter. Stir sesame oil, peppercorns, and sugar into sauce. Adjust consistency with extra hot water as needed. Spoon sauce over chicken and sprinkle with scallion greens. Serve.