“By the time we’re done here,” says chef Edward Lee, “all of this is going to commingle and mix and become one beautiful dish.” The trick to making Lee’s peanut-braised chicken with coconut Carolina rice — a dish he teaches in his class for YesChef, a subscription-based streaming platform offering cinematic cooking classes taught by world-renowned chefs — is cooking the ingredients one by one in a pot, allowing each to cook and caramelize before adding the next. “None of this is an exact science,” Lee assures. “The joy of this kind of cooking is that there’s really not a lot you can do wrong.”
To start, Lee sears off chicken drumsticks until their skin is golden and the chicken fat has rendered into the pan. Once the chicken has imparted its flavor to the cooking oil, he removes it, making way for fragrant garlic, shallots, and chopped mushroom. As the shallots and garlic caramelize, Lee uses a wooden spatula to scrape up the caramelized bits of chicken fat before snugly fitting the seared chicken back into the pan.
Once the chicken stock, miso paste, and peanut butter are added to the pot, Lee says not to worry if the mixture is a little clumpy — “as this braises, it’s all going to melt into each other, and that’s the beauty of it,” he explains. After adding coconut milk, fish sauce, and soy sauce to the pan, along with an aromatic bay leaf, there’s one crucial ingredient you can’t substitute at this stage: time. As the braise slowly bubbles away, the taste of each ingredient becomes less distinct as the dish comes together. “Don’t disturb it, just let it do its thing,” Lee advises.
The rich braised chicken gets paired with coconut rice. Lee makes his with Carolina gold rice: “To me,” he says, “it’s going to have a slightly nuttier flavor than plain old sushi rice.” Lee adds a small pinch of white pepper to the rice and coconut milk, along with one bay leaf. “The idea of being able to flavor the liquid that’s cooking rice was such a revelation to me,” he says. “We live here in the South. And so why not take that sort of Asian technique but then pair it with a local ingredient, which is Carolina rice.”
Before Lee serves the braised chicken and coconut rice, the bubbling stew gets a bright kick of color from tender green leaves of bok choy. When it’s finished, the chicken is perfectly tender and the braising liquid soaks into the fragrant rice. When it comes time to set the table and enjoy, “the meat falls off the bone,” Lee says. “You don’t need a fork.” — Elazar Sontag
Peanut Braised Chicken With Coconut Carolina Rice Recipe
For the Carolina Gold coconut rice:
1 cup medium-grain rice, preferably Carolina Gold rice
1 cup water
1 cup organic coconut milk
1 pinch sugar plus more to taste
¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 bay leaf
For the savory Asian peanut butter:
2 cups raw unsalted peanuts shelled (makes about 20 1-tablespoon servings);