As a big-flavor food enthusiast, I see chicken as a great “blank canvas” in my cooking. The meat has great potential for many delicious dishes. With the right blend of spices and a little patience anyone can create their own far-from-boring signature chicken dish. For me, braised and broiled chicken has been an all-time favorite and specialty.
Inspired by a version (out of many) of traditional Javanese grilled chicken, I learned to cook this meal by trying on different recipes years ago. I tweaked the technique and ingredients many times to get to my own version. We evolved with time, the recipe and I. Now that I have reached my satisfactory level with this dish I feel more confident in sharing the recipe with others.
Chicken thighs with their succulence and tender texture work best for this particular recipe. The meat doesn’t turn dry even after being cooked twice. In this recipe I braise the chicken to tenderize the meat and infuse it with flavors of my choosing. Then I broil the braised meat to get that crispy golden brown effect on the chicken’s exterior. (During the warmer months I’d brown the braised chicken on a grill outside.)
Here are the must-haves and the steps to cook the chicken:
- 4-6 bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs. (Worry not about the fat. A lot of it will be cooked out of the meat.)
- 1 inch of galangal
- 1 lemongrass
- 2 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
For the flavor, mix and puree in a food processor:
- 1 inch of ginger
- 1 tablespoon of minced garlic
- 4-5 shallots
- 5-6 candlenuts
- 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder
- ½ teaspoon of black pepper powder
- 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper powder
- Salt (be generous)
Heat up a tablespoon of canola oil in a large pot (over medium heat). Brown the blended spices along with the galangal and the lemongrass. Add the chicken and two or three cups of water (until the chicken is almost, not completely, covered by the liquid). Stir and mix well. Throw in the kaffir lemon leaves. Cover with a lid and let it cook for an hour to an hour and a half until the meat gets tender. Taste before broiling. Add more salt if necessary. (Leaving the chicken in its braising liquid overnight, and broil the next day, would amplify the taste.)
Set oven to broil. Place the chicken thighs on an oven rack set over a tray (so that any leftover juice has a place to go). Broil each side for 4-5 minutes until the color turn to golden brown. Be careful, it’s super hot!
Great with steamed white rice, chilies, and a vegetable soup side dish (coming up on the blog soon).
Serve two generously