2 lbs chicken thighs, drumsticks or wings skin-on
2 tbsp duck or bacon fat, or cooking oil
1/2 inch slice ginger, bruised (hint-keep a big piece in your freezer)
8 oz baby portabella mushrooms sliced in half (or button, whatever)
1 large sweet onion sliced into thick half circles
2 cups water
1/3 cup dark soy sauce
3 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp chili paste or 2 fresh thai bird chiles (I used the garlic kind)
1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice powder
sea salt to taste
sesame oil if desired
In a large deep covered dutch oven or something similar saute the onion and mushrooms in 1 tbsp of the fat/oil and a small hit of salt until soft and nicely browned. *Note, this is optional, you could skip this step and just brown the chicken.
Set aside and add the other tbsp of fat and brown the chicken, skin side down first.
Set chicken aside and drain off excess fat, leaving about 1 tbsp.
Throw in the ginger piece and fry for a couple seconds, then add the mix of soy sauce, sugar, chile, 5 spice powder and water and deglaze the pan, scrape all the good stuff off the bottom!
Add the chicken, shrooms and onions back to the pot, the water should come up about half the sides of the meat pieces.
Bring to a boil then turn to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes turning halfway through. Meat should be very tender and cooked through.
When meat is done, remove to a platter and turn the heat up on the liquid. (*Note: if you want you can use half the pan liquid for sauce and freeze the other half to use as a starter braise liquid for next time, just add more water!)
Reduce liquid by half and add in a tsp cornstarch dissolved in a little water if you like a thick sauce. Drizzle in some sesame oil if desired and pour over chicken. Serve with white rice and something green with some of the sauce on the side.
Vegetation suggestion: saute on very high heat 1 bag frozen beans or sugar snap peas in a little fat with a tablespoon or two of chile garlic paste and a small hit of salt until crisp and warmed through. Delicious and simple!