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When I think of clay-pot chicken rice I imagine glossy brown chicken, sweet Chinese sausage, and plump, slightly toothsome soy-saucy rice cooked and served in a clay pot.  Oh, and I’m forgetting the best part – the crispy “shell” of rice on the bottom and sides of the pot.  FHE and I ordered it time and time again from a little Vietnamese-Chinese cafe while in college.  (One of the few authentic Asian eateries – or so it seemed – in suburban Chicago.)  One of our favorite comfort dishes, it’s been years since we’ve delighted in clay-pot chicken rice.  So when I happened upon a modern version on Gourmet’s website, I knew I had to try. 

This rich, homey stew is a modern interpretation of a Mexican stew but with Japanese ingredients.  (Only Momofuku.)  While it shares some similar ingredients with Asian clay-pot chicken, it tastes nothing like the traditional.  But that’s not to say it is not delicious.  After roasting in the oven and braising in a savory, earthy broth for an hour, the chicken thighs are fall-off-the-bone tender and the wood ear mushrooms add a unique crunchy textural contrast.  The flavors are satisfying and well-balanced – a blend of spicy ginger and garlic, sweet and salty shiro miso, earthy mushrooms, and sweet vegetables.  It is a satisfying one-pot meal – even if it isn’t the authentic clay-pot chicken rice we are accustomed to.

Modern Clay-Pot Miso Chicken, adapted from Gourmet and contributed by Momofuku Restaurant

Ingredients

8 chicken thighs with skin and bone
1/2 cup dried wood ear mushrooms
2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 cups dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp finely chopped peeled ginger
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup mirin
4 tbsp white shiro miso
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 lb mustard greens, napa cabbage or green of your choice
Rice, for serving
Sliced green onions, for garnish

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Pat chicken dry, then roast, skin side up, shallow baking pan or dish until skin is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.
  2. While chicken roasts, soak wood ear mushrooms and shiitakes in hot water until softened.  W hen soft, cut the stems off the shiitakes and slice.  Set aside.
  3. Transfer roasted chicken to a bowl and pour pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass measure.  Let stand until fat rises to top, 1 to 2 minutes, then skim off and discard fat.  Add enough stock to bring a cup of liquid.  (At this point I removed the chicken skin.  You can, of course, keep it on for more flavor.)
  4. Reduce oven to 300 degrees F.
  5. Heat oil in a small heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté onions until softened and beginning to brown.  Add ginger, and garlic and sauté until garlic is golden, 3 to 5 minutes.  Add mirin and boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, 1 minute.  Stir in miso and soy sauce, then stir in chicken, wood ear mushrooms, shiitakes, and stock mixture.  Bring to a boil, skimming off any froth.
  6. Cover pot and braise in oven until chicken is tender, about 1 hour. Just prior to serving, add vegetable of your choice and cook until tender.  Serve with brown or white rice.
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