Today when I woke up to gray skies and that fine, Bay Area micro-mist that’s actually quite uncommon in my neck of the woods, I knew it’d be a Dutch oven supper night. Despite my obsession with summer and my resistance to its departure, autumn brings with it all sorts of seasonal rewards, not the least of which is fiddling with my slowly growing collection of Le Creuset cookware. (Hey, homegirls gotta pay the bills.) I’ve always been a fan of slow cooking. It’s the kind of cooking that indicates you’ve got time on your hands, and that’s a luxury I’ll never refuse — but there’s something almost sinful about transforming simple, inexpensive ingredients into a culinary experience this rich with flavor, with body, with unarguably homey comfort.
And that’s really where this dish appeals to me. While it’s not overtly Chinese, the combination of aromatic ginger, sugar, soy sauce and wine give this an almost hot pot-like quality, replete with a glossy, unctuous sauce that begs for rice. White rice is a “treat” in our home these days, but it’s absolutely the recommended accompaniment for this meal and should be generously doused with the garlicky, plum-studded sauce and consumed in abundance.
Which brings me to my next point: this is cheap eats, so double it, triple it — hell, quadruple it if you’ve got a Dutch oven that can take it, or just fire two pots at once — and feed a gaggle of discerning diners on a beggar’s budget a la Frugal Feeding or Kimberly at Poor Girl Eats Well. (Both are super budget savvy bloggers who are cooking/eating better than most of us for a lot less cash. They’re talented scribblers, as well, so do yourself a favor and check them out if you haven’t already.)
In sum: we’re talking slow-cooked, unctuous, affordable goodness here, so get after it, like, right now.
Garlic Chicken with Plums
By Emily Stoffel
Cooking time: 2 hrs (or so) | Serves: 3-4 (or 2 with excellent leftovers! See note)
Note: This recipe was inspired by a similar recipe I use for pork belly, which becomes just as meltingly tender and syrupy when simmered for hours in the sugary soy broth. In both recipes, leftovers are excellent wrapped into tacos with shredded cabbage, mayo mixed with a little tamari and sriracha and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.
- 2 T canola or other light cooking oil
- 2 inches fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
- 7-8 bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks
- 10-12 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
- 1 cup marsala wine
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 3 plums, pitted and quartered
- Hot steamed rice for serving
Add oil and sliced ginger to a large Dutch oven and bring to med-high heat. Pat chicken pieces dry and season liberally with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan and sear until golden brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together wine, soy sauce and sugar. When chicken is browned, pour over wine mixture, scraping brown bits from the bottom of the pan, and add garlic. Increase heat to high, bring to a boil; then cover, reduce to low and simmer for 1.5 hours. (Now would be a good time to wash your hair, sweat to the oldies, plan your next three-day weekend…) At the end of the 1.5 hours, skim off any surface scum, stir in plums, increase heat and simmer, uncovered, until liquid is reduced by 2/3, about 25 mins. Remove chicken pieces to platter and pour over sauce. (Plums and garlic will have marvelously melted into oblivion.) Serve with lots of hot steamed rice.