Chairman Mao's Red Chicken
Minnesota-based TV star Andrew Zimmern's boyhood fascination with Chinese cuisine manifests itself in this hands-off braise. Whole spices perfume the meat (and your kitchen), but they don't dominate: The dish tastes emphatically, gloriously of chicken. For anyone raised on takeout, it's a revelation. Serve with white rice.
Sake and mirin are two varieties of Japanese rice wine. Mirin is sweeter and slightly less alcoholic. Find them at well-stocked supermarkets or Asian groceries. If you can't find mirin, substitute an extra 1/4 cup sake and 3 tablespoons sugar.
Andrew Zimmern prefers to use pasture-raised chicken in his cooking. If you prepare this recipe using conventionally raised chicken, you may want to skim some fat from the surface of the sauce. And you may need to simmer longer to reduce the sauce. (Conventionally raised chicken has higher fat and water content.) If the sauce isn't reducing fast enough, remove the chicken with tongs and crank up the heat to help it along, then return the chicken to the pan when the sauce seems syrupy.