Dry Pot Chicken

I really liked how this dish tasted, but I found the recipe kind of confounding (it seemed weird to cook chicken for a stir fry in the oven beforehand, and between that and having to blanch some of the veggies, it was time-consuming). I omitted the tofu skin because we didn’t have any.

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½ cup dried tofu skin (see Tips), broken into pieces
2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, patted dry
9 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine (see Tips), divided
½ teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns (see Tips)
2 tablespoons Pixian chili bean paste (doubanjiang; see Tips)
1 tablespoon Sichuan chili flakes (see Tips) or crushed red pepper
1 medium russet potato, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 bunch broccolini, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1-2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, thinly sliced
8-10 dried small red chiles
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 (2 inch) piece ginger, peeled and cut into thin slivers
4 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place tofu skin in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Let soak for 30 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, toss chicken with 2 tablespoons oil, 1 tablespoon Shaoxing and ground pepper in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part without touching bone registers 165 degrees F, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a clean cutting board. When cool enough to handle, pull the meat from the bones (discard bones and skin). Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Add cumin seeds, fennel seeds and peppercorns; toast, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Transfer to a plate to cool, then coarsely grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Transfer to a small bowl and add chili bean paste and chili flakes (or crushed red pepper); mix well and set aside.

Put a large pot of water on to boil and set a large bowl of ice water beside the stove. Add the tofu skin and potato to the boiling water. Cook until the potato is just tender, about 5 minutes. Add broccolini and celery; cook for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables and tofu skin to the ice water, then transfer to a clean kitchen towel to drain.

Heat a large flat-bottom wok or cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add 4 tablespoons oil and onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion is softened, about 3 minutes. Add jalapeño (or serrano) and dried chiles to taste, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Push the aromatics to the sides of the pan, making a well in the center. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil, followed by the reserved peppercorn mixture. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chicken and scallions; cook, stirring, until the chicken is hot, about 1 minute. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon Shaoxing and soy sauce around the edges of the pan, then add the vegetables and tofu skin. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are hot, about 1 minute more. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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