We saw this Smothered Chicken with Bourbon and Miso recipe in our latest Milk Street magazine and knew it had to get on our short list. It is their adaptation of a recipe from the cookbook “Smoke and Pickles” by Edward Lee.
As described by Milk Street, “It’s a fantastic Asian-inflected spin on an all-American favorite: smothered pork chops. A combination of umami-rich ingredients, woodsy bourbon and sweet-tangy orange juice produces a silky, deeply flavored mushroom sauce for smothering tender bone-in chicken legs.”
And since I am not a fan of chicken legs, we decided to buy a whole 3 1/2-pound chicken. This option gives us the extra “body parts” for making homemade stock later on. Plus, I get my preferred white meat.
Don’t worry if you have the wrong variety of miso. Dark miso, such as red (aka) or barley (mugi) miso is preferred, but white (shiro) miso is easier to find and more versatile. The sauce will be a little sweeter and milder, but still delicious.
Smothering typically refers to braising meats in gravy, a process that produces tender meat and a rich sauce to ladle over it—but it is time-intensive. Here, corners are cut to streamline the technique but keep the savory flavor. Chief among them are the bourbon whisky, dark soy sauce and shiitake mushrooms.
Bourbon is a wonderful ingredient to add when you want a smoky, aged sweetness with a bit of leathery caramel flavor.Edward Lee
The result? A rich, velvety umami-packed chicken that offers the savory flavors of a long braise in a fraction of the time. Works for us!
If you are interested in the unusual but fantastic side dish, check out this recipe for Sautéed Celery with Leeks and Mushrooms.
Smothered Chicken with Bourbon and Miso
- 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp. dark miso, such as red or barley miso (see note)
- ½ cup orange juice
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken leg quarters (about 3 pounds total), patted dry
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 12 oz. shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 4 large garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- ⅓ cup bourbon
- In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and miso until smooth. Whisk in the orange juice and set aside.
- Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chicken skin down and cook undisturbed until well browned, about 5 minutes. (You may have to do this in two batches.)
- Flip and cook until the second sides are well browned, another 5 minutes. Transfer to a large plate, then pour off and discard all but 2 tablespoons fat from the pot.
- Return the pot to medium-high. Add the onions, mushrooms and garlic, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the bourbon and cook, scraping up the browned bits, until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 seconds.
- Pour in the miso mixture and 2 cups water, then bring to a simmer. Return the chicken skin up to the pot and pour in the accumulated juices.
- Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer, until the thickest parts of the legs reach 175°F, 20 to 25 minutes.
- Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Bring the sauce to a boil over high and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened to a gravy consistency, 7 to 9 minutes.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper, then spoon over the chicken.