I was a bad girl and didnt listen to my mom. I made caramel chicken IN my claypot, even though she told me not to because it wont come out right. Well it may not have come out "right" but it came out super delicious! The only bad thing is the chicken meat broke apart too much, but thats because I was stricken with this urge to keep moving the pieces around. Next time Ill just let it be.
The recipe below is my adaptation of 3 different Vietnamese caramel chicken/clay pot chicken recipes I found online, including one by Charles Phan of Slanted Door fame. Its probably not authentic, its got more than twice as many ingredients as my moms recipe, and it was a lot more soupy than I expected, but damn was it good. I also made a simple salad of green papaya, daikon, carrots and rau ram to go on the side since the chicken was so strong tasting.
I made it for a potluck and it quickly disappeared. Yeah I transported a soupy clay pot to a potluck and miraculously managed to avoid getting smelly sauce all over my car. I dont really recommend you do that.
Claypot Chicken in Caramel Sauce
Serves 4-8 as part of a meal with other dishes
10 chicken thighs (see *Note)
4 Tablespoons Vietnamese caramel sauce
3 Tablespoons fish sauce
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 chicken bouillon cube
pepper (about 20 squeezes from a pepper ball)
1.5 Tablespoons lime juice
1.5 Tablespoons orange zest, minced
4 cloves garlic, sliced
4 shallots, sliced
1 teaspoon oil
4 or 5 hot chiles (I used De Arbol)
a 2-inch piece ginger root, peeled, sliced into coins and mashed with the back of a knife
1/4 cup water
Garnish: chopped cilantro and thinly sliced green onions
Remove chicken skins, trim off any fat you dont like, and cut each thigh into 2 pieces. Marinade overnight (about 8-10 hours) or however long you like. Add oil to bottom of claypot. Add garlic, shallots, ginger coins, chiles, chicken pieces, marinade, and water. Cover claypot and heat over medium low. When it comes to a fast simmer, turn down to very low. Simmer for about 1 to 2 hours or until chicken is tender. I think it was tender at 1 hour but I ended up simmering for 2 hours because I was trying to get the sauce to reduce (it didnt reduce much).
*Note: My choice of bone-in skinless thighs is partly to keep it on the authentic side, partly to keep the fat down, and partly because it was what was on sale at Safeway.
Below is the before cooking & after cooking photos. Note meat got all broken up and the pieces on top look kind of dried out (hence my compulsion to keep moving the pieces around). But they were in fact as moist and tender as the submerged pieces. Or is that because I kept moving them around? I might suggest reducing the marinade amounts and leaving out the water to avoid such a soupy end result, but the sauce was even yummier than the chicken. It gelled by the time I took it home and now I have an ultra flavorful sauce/stock gelled thingee in my fridge. I dont know what to do with it other than eat it with plain rice.