2000s Recipes + Menus

Steam-Braised Chicken and Black Mushrooms

  • Active time:30 min
  • Start to finish:2 1/4 hr
March 2009
Wrapping chicken, mushrooms, and leeks in parchment paper and steaming them gently for a couple of hours—a technique that food editor Ian Knauer learned in Mexico—results in intensely flavored meat that literally falls off the bone at the nudge of a fork. The method also creates a wonderful broth that gains umami from soy sauce, as well as from the dried black mushrooms (left over from Short Rib and Vegetable Stew) and their soaking liquid. A curl of orange zest tucked inside the package gives the dish a fragrant brightness. Despite the ingredients, this dish doesn’t taste Asian—its comforting flavors are essentially universal. Serve it over rice or noodles.
  • 4 dried black mushrooms
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 4 whole chicken legs
  • 4 (2- by 1/2-inch) strips orange zest
  • Equipment:

    kitchen string
  • Accompaniment:

    orange wedges
  • Bring mushrooms and water to a boil in a small saucepan, then remove from heat and let soak, covered, 20 minutes. Squeeze water from mushrooms through a paper-towel-lined sieve back into saucepan, reserving liquid. Discard stems, then slice mushroom caps.
  • Chop leeks, then wash see (see Tips). Heat butter in a 10-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté leeks with 1/2 tsp salt until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and soaking liquid and boil until most of liquid has evaporated. Stir in soy sauce and remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Season chicken with 3/4 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Place 1 chicken leg in center of a double layer of parchment paper (about 20 by 15 inches), then cover with 1/4 cup mushroom mixture and top with zest strip. Gather parchment up around chicken and tie tightly with kitchen string. Make 3 more packages in same manner.
  • Steam packages in a steamer rack (such as a pasta-pot insert) set 3 to 4 inches above boiling water, covered tightly, until chicken is very tender and starting to fall off the bone, 1 3/4 to 2 hours (replenish water as necessary).
  • Carefully transfer each package to a shallow bowl. Remove string and slowly slide parchment out from underneath chicken and broth. Season with salt.
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