Seamus Mullen’s Asian Braised Chicken in Lettuce Cups
Award-winning New York chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Seamus Mullen is known for his inventive yet approachable Spanish cuisine and unique approach to healthy cooking. Here he shares a recipe he created for us using the versatile Staub braise and grill pan, a Dutch oven with a lid that doubles as a grill pan. Serve it as the first course of an Asian-inspired meal, or as an hors d’oeuvres—serving the braised chicken in lettuce cups makes it a great finger food. Black bean garlic sauce is stocked at most larger grocery stores, though you may need to visit an Asian grocer to find the Chinese black vinegar, which adds a unique smoky flavor to foods.
For the pickled daikon:
- 1 daikon radish, peeled and thinly sliced into rounds
- 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) honey
- 2 Tbs. kosher salt
For the braised chicken:
- 10 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) boiling water
- 3-inch (7.5-cm) piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 cup (4 oz./125 g) black bean garlic sauce
- 2 Tbs. Chinese black vinegar
- 2 dried Asian chiles
- 2 Tbs. Chinese five-spice powder
- 1 Tbs. sesame oil
- 4 Tbs. (2 fl.oz./60 ml) coconut oil
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 2 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
For the salsa verde:
- 2 cups (2 oz./60 g) coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 shallot, finely minced
- 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely diced
- Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 2 Tbs. coconut oil
- 1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 head Bibb lettuce, leaves separated
- 1 cup (5 oz./155 g) toasted cashews, coarsely chopped
To make the pickled daikon, put the daikon in a heatproof bowl. In a saucepan over high heat, combine the vinegar, honey and salt with 1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) water. Bring the liquid to a boil, then remove from the heat and pour over the daikon. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until ready to use. The pickled daikon can be prepared up to 2 days in advance.
To make the braised chicken, put the dried mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water on top. Cover and set aside to soak for 45 minutes. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the mushrooms and their soaking liquid separately. Set aside.
Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C).
In a food processor, combine the ginger, garlic, black bean garlic sauce, black vinegar, chiles, five-spice powder, sesame oil and 2 Tbs. of the coconut oil. Process until the ingredients are combined and form a chunky paste.
With a sharp knife, cut a few small slits in each of the chicken thighs. Thoroughly coat the thighs with the ginger mixture, rubbing some of it into the slits, and set aside.
In a grill pan over high heat, warm the remaining 2 Tbs. coconut oil. Working in batches, sear the chicken, turning once, until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
Place the onions and the shiitake mushrooms in an even layer in the bottom of a Dutch oven. Arrange the chicken thighs on top and then add enough of the mushroom soaking water to cover the vegetables. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Braise the chicken until the meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 1 1/2 hours, adding more of the mushroom soaking liquid or water as necessary to keep the vegetables covered.
While the chicken is braising, make the salsa verde. In a large bowl, stir together the cilantro, shallot, jalapeño, lemon zest and juice, coconut oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
When the chicken is tender, remove the chicken from the pot and set aside to cool. Strain the braising liquid and discard the onions and mushrooms. Place the Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium-high heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by about half and the flavor is concentrated, 6 to 8 minutes.
When the chicken is cool enough to handle, pull off the skin, remove the meat from the bones, and discard the bones and skin. Shred the meat and set aside.
To serve, arrange the lettuce leaves on a platter and divide the chicken among the lettuce leaves. Sprinkle with some of the pickled daikon and drizzle with the salsa verde. Sprinkle with the cashews and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Recipe by Seamus Mullen, Chef/Owner, Tertulia, El Colmado and El Comado Butchery