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A Peanut-Braised Chicken With Coconut Carolina Rice Recipe to Warm the Soul

Caramelization and time are Chef Edward Lee’s secrets to making chicken drumsticks that are fall-off-the-bone good

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A peanut-braised chicken drumstick, garnished with cilantro, is served on a big white plate. YesChef

“By the time we’re done here,” says chef Edward Lee, “all of this is going to commingle and mix and become one beautiful dish.” The trick to making Lee’s peanut-braised chicken with coconut Carolina rice — a dish he teaches in his class for YesChef, a subscription-based streaming platform offering cinematic cooking classes taught by world-renowned chefs — is cooking the ingredients one by one in a pot, allowing each to cook and caramelize before adding the next. “None of this is an exact science,” Lee assures. “The joy of this kind of cooking is that there’s really not a lot you can do wrong.”

To start, Lee sears off chicken drumsticks until their skin is golden and the chicken fat has rendered into the pan. Once the chicken has imparted its flavor to the cooking oil, he removes it, making way for fragrant garlic, shallots, and chopped mushroom. As the shallots and garlic caramelize, Lee uses a wooden spatula to scrape up the caramelized bits of chicken fat before snugly fitting the seared chicken back into the pan.

Once the chicken stock, miso paste, and peanut butter are added to the pot, Lee says not to worry if the mixture is a little clumpy — “as this braises, it’s all going to melt into each other, and that’s the beauty of it,” he explains. After adding coconut milk, fish sauce, and soy sauce to the pan, along with an aromatic bay leaf, there’s one crucial ingredient you can’t substitute at this stage: time. As the braise slowly bubbles away, the taste of each ingredient becomes less distinct as the dish comes together. “Don’t disturb it, just let it do its thing,” Lee advises.

The rich braised chicken gets paired with coconut rice. Lee makes his with Carolina gold rice: “To me,” he says, “it’s going to have a slightly nuttier flavor than plain old sushi rice.” Lee adds a small pinch of white pepper to the rice and coconut milk, along with one bay leaf. “The idea of being able to flavor the liquid that’s cooking rice was such a revelation to me,” he says. “We live here in the South. And so why not take that sort of Asian technique but then pair it with a local ingredient, which is Carolina rice.”

Before Lee serves the braised chicken and coconut rice, the bubbling stew gets a bright kick of color from tender green leaves of bok choy. When it’s finished, the chicken is perfectly tender and the braising liquid soaks into the fragrant rice. When it comes time to set the table and enjoy, “the meat falls off the bone,” Lee says. “You don’t need a fork.” — Elazar Sontag

Peanut Braised Chicken With Coconut Carolina Rice Recipe

Serves 5


For the Carolina Gold coconut rice:

1 cup medium-grain rice, preferably Carolina Gold rice
1 cup water
1 cup organic coconut milk
1 pinch sugar plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 bay leaf

For the savory Asian peanut butter:

2 cups raw unsalted peanuts shelled (makes about 20 1-tablespoon servings); you can substitute with cashew nuts
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons sorghum syrup or honey or molasses
2 pinches salt plus more to taste
½ teaspoon togarashi spice
Warm water

For the peanut braised chicken drumsticks:

¼ cup vegetable oil, such as olive oil
5 chicken drumsticks
2 shallots, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and roughly chopped
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons red miso paste (1 heaping spoonful)
2 tablespoons homemade peanut butter (1 heaping spoonful)
1 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled
1 cup organic coconut milk
¼ teaspoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon soy sauce
1 bay leaf
Cilantro leaves to garnish
5 bok choy or cabbage leaves, small and tender


For the Carolina Gold coconut rice:

Step 1: Add 1 cup medium-grain rice to a bowl, then cover with fresh, cold water to rinse. Swirl the rice in the water to release some of its starch and drain. Repeat the process until the water is clear.

Step 2: Move the medium-grain rice to a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the water and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.

Step 3: Add the sugar, white pepper, and bay leaf. Stir well to combine and bring to a bubble. Cover with a lid and reduce the temperatures to low heat.

Step 4: Cook for 30 to 40 minutes. When the rice is tender and slightly firm, plate a spoonful on a serving dish. Use a wooden spoon to scrape crispy rice from the bottom of the pot and use it as a topping for the rice. Garnish with a few cilantro leaves.

For the savory Asian peanut butter:

Step 1: Sterilize a jar: Place clean jars right side up in a pot. Fill the pot with water until the jar tops are covered by 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil before boiling for a further 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars in water for an hour. Remove with tongs, drain, and store in a clean space or surface.

Step 2: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Step 3: Place the raw peanuts, skins removed, on a pan and dry roast in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes.

Step 4: Load the dry-roasted nuts into a food processor and pulse the nuts until they are powdery. Run the processor at high speed until they turn into a paste.

Step 5: While the processor is still running, drizzle sesame oil and sorghum syrup over the mixture until it’s buttery.

Step 6: Sprinkle the salt and togarashi spice over the mixture and cream the buttery peanuts with a few drops of warm water, adding a drop at a time so as not to break the mixture.

Step 7: Transfer the peanut butter to a sterilized jam jar and store in a refrigerator until ready to use. Once opened, it can still go for 3 to 6 months if well-stored in the refrigerator.

For the peanut braised drumsticks:

Step 1: Pour the vegetable oil into a stockpot or a cast-iron Dutch oven and place it on medium heat.

Step 2: Wait until the oil is hot, then create an even layer of chicken drumsticks at the bottom. Turn frequently until they turn brown on all sides. Once the chicken is ready, remove from the pan and set aside.

Step 3: Reduce the fire to medium heat and add the shallots, garlic cloves, and shiitake mushrooms to the same pan. Cook them until soft and fragrant, scraping the bottom of the pan before returning the drumsticks.

Step 4: Cover with the chicken stock, miso paste, homemade peanut butter, and turmeric powder. Grate the ginger directly into the pan and let the mixture simmer.

Step 5: Add the coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce, and bay leaf, and stir to combine.

Step 6: Cover the cast-iron Dutch oven and let it simmer over medium-low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Step 7: Add the bok choy leaves or cabbage leaves in the last 2 to 3 minutes and turn off the heat.

Step 8: Serve each chicken drumstick together with its sauce and a leaf of bok choy or cabbage.

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