There are two reasons why you have to cook braised chestnut chicken. You either love a good dish with gravy on the rice or it's winter because the dish is like a big hug as it warms the soul. That's the beauty of the braising process when cooking the dish in a mixture of sauces namely light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, Shaoxing wine and sesame oil. While it is already a winning combination on its own, slowly cooking the chestnuts in the gravy helps the natural sweetness to be released. This results in a delicious chicken dish with soft chestnuts and juicy mushrooms that will be the star of your meal!
The secret to the best chestnut chicken
While it may seem like a simple braised dish, there are two factors you need to take extra notice to ensure this dish taste fantastic. When tasting the gravy, the flavour of the chestnuts must clearly comes through. This is the reason I highly recommend crushing some of the chestnuts to allow the flavours to develop better as they cook.
Sautéing the chestnuts, aromatics, mushrooms and chicken until fragrant is equally important. This helps to improve the flavour of the dish and also to remove excess water, if any. It is important to pay attention to each of the recommended steps.
All about preparing chestnuts
Of course, fresh chestnuts will yield the best taste. All you need to do is to make an insertion on the shell of each chestnut. This allows the heat and water to soften it. Be careful not to hurt yourself as the shell is rather slippery.
The thin brown skin of the chestnut will usually falls off when removing the shell after boiling. If it does not, boil the chestnuts again for another minute before transferring them to a clean kitchen towel and give them a gentle rub. The friction between the kitchen towel and the chestnuts should remove the skin easily.
However, this step might be a nuisance to many. A quick way is to buy peeled chestnuts which are sold in a vacuum package or pickled in syrup water. The latter might result in the dish becoming sweeter. So you may want to reduce the sugar or omit it.
Which part of the chicken to use?
Usually, chicken wings and drumsticks are used in this dish. Using meat with bones attached in a braised dish provides a bolder flavour. Besides that, the meat is also very much tender compared to using chicken breast. I highly recommend not to remove the skin because it releases oil and makes the dish much tastier. Chicken stock is not all needed.
Is the dish suitable for children?
Of course! The dried chillies can be removed to make it suitable for children. Chestnuts are also known to be filled with health benefits. Just remember to remove the bones if you are serving it to toddlers.
How to prepare the dish in advance?
Preparations can be done up to 3 days in advance. Ensure that the chestnuts, aromatics and mushrooms are ready for cooking. You can keep them in an air tight container to retain the freshness. Otherwise, contain their freshness using cling wrap.
How long can the dish be stored?
Braised dishes are perfect for bulk cooking as they always taste better the day after. You can double or triple the amount to portion into several meals. Freeze the dish in an air-tight container or a freezer bag. They can be kept for up to 2 months.
To reheat, the frozen dish does not need to be thawed. Just steam it over medium to high heat for 20 minutes. It does not take long to heat up but I always like to steam it a little longer to ensure that the dish is really hot. If you want a quicker method, reheat the frozen dish in a pot filled with a bit of water and place the lid on. This will allow the dish to thaw and cook at the same time. However, you may want to season it with some soy sauce or sugar before serving as the taste may be diluted during the process.