The GDC: Five-Spices Chicken

Five-Spices ChickenWe’re still in the market for gout-friendly recipes that tickle the palate. This is one I actually dug up from my recipe files after dad reminisced about a Chinese-style chicken he remembered that was flavored with star-anise. I copied the original recipe from a newspaper article probably 20 years ago (yes, when I was a mere child in grade school . . .) onto a 4×6 index card. It’s quite westernized, but still answers to its original Asian influences. I’ve adapted the old recipe so it is friendlier to the gout sufferer and can be cooked wholly in a slow-cooker for 6 hours, though the sauce must be finished in a pan. It’s a recipe designed to leaves the chef free for a day to pursue other interests. Note how the chicken browned nicely even without the pre-browning step.

Even if you don’t have gout, this is an easy and delicious way to add a little something different to your weekday menu. Follow the suggestions for non-restricted diets in parentheses.

2 TBL. tomato paste (or ketchup, as in the original recipe!)
1/4 cup raw honey (better for gout diet), OR 3 TBL. brown sugar
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (or regular if you have no restrictions for gout)
1/4 cup natural apple juice (sake, sherry, or Chinese rice wine if you have no restrictions for gout)
1/4 cup broth or water (if using only whole breasts, I recommend using broth, as the breast pieces don’t have enough bones to substantially flavor the sauce) + more to cover the chicken pieces in the pot

Combine ketchup, honey, soy sauce, juice/wine, and 1/4 cup broth/water and stir well to dissolve honey or sugar.

1 onion, sliced
3-6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 4-in. (20cm) slices of fresh ginger
1 stick of cinnamon, halved
3-4 pieces of whole star anise
6-10 whole black peppercorns
1 whole frying chicken, or whole legs or breasts (3-4lbs, 1.5-2kg)

To Finish:
2 heaping TBL. of cornstarch
3 TBL. water

Stir together to dissolve cornstarch.

Lay onion, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, star anise, and peppercorns on bottom of slow-cooker. Cut chicken into serving size pieces, and lay on top of spices. Add prepared Sauce, and enough additional broth/water to cover the chicken. Set slow-cooker on LOW setting and leave to enjoy the rest of your morning.

After 6-7 hours, remove chicken to serving dish and cover to keep warm. Strain remaining sauce into a skillet and boil over high heat to reduce to about 1.5 cups. Taste and if the flavor is not too concentrated, further reduce to 1 cup. If flavors are already strong, proceed to thickening.

Taste and correct seasoning. To thicken, reduce heat to medium and add cornstarch mixture, stirring well as you pour in cornstarch. Stir well to combine and cook until sauce is slightly thickened and takes on a shine. Pour over chicken and serve immediately with Mestizo Rice, and steamed or braised vegetables (see GDC Round-up for other gout-friendly recipes)

This recipe is going out to Sunita at Sunita’s World . . . life and food for her wonderful “Think Spice . . . think star anise” event this month. I love the distinctive flavor of star anise, it is the signature spice in Five Spices Chicken, and I’m looking forward to Sunita’s round-up at the beginning of March to discover new recipes featuring this pretty spice.