“Top Chef” Alum Edward Lee’s Miso-Smothered Chicken

Miso-smothered chicken with tangy, crunchy jicama pickles.

Miso-smothered chicken with tangy, crunchy jicama pickles.

If you’re a fan of “Top Chef’‘ like I am, then you’re sure to remember Chef Edward Lee, who is Korean, cooks with French techniques and makes his home in the South.

Those three cultural heritages come together deliciously in his new cookbook, “”Smoke & Pickles” (Artisan), of which I received a review copy.

Lee may be chef-owner of two acclaimed restaurants, 610 Magnolia and Milkwood, both in Louisville, KY. But the food he presents on these pages is the rustic, bold-flavored type he makes for friends, family and even for staff meals.

“Miso-Smothered Chicken” exemplifies that. It’s bowl-food at its best: A mound of fluffy rice  with tender, braised chicken seasoned with garlic, cayenne, orange juice, chicken stock, soy sauce and miso. It’s chicken stew — Japanese-style.


What really makes the dish is the accompanying pickles. Yes, they take a little more work, and have to be made at least a day ahead of the chicken. But one crunchy bite later, you’ll be so glad you made that extra effort. They’re a little like the julienned pickled vegetables you find on Vietnamese sandwiches, but fruitier tasting, thanks to the fresh pureed pineapple juice they’re preserved in. You’re sure to find many other ways to enjoy them beyond this chicken dish, including tucked inside fish tacos, atop an ahi burger or tossed into a green salad. I made the pickle with all red peppers, but you can follow the recipe suggestion and throw a yellow pepper into the mix, too.

I also used a sample of Angel’s Envy bourbon in the dish, which is exceptionally smooth with apple and vanilla notes.

Angel's Envy aged bourbon.

Angel’s Envy aged bourbon.

The recipe calls for a final simmer of about 15 minutes to reduce the sauce to a gravy consistency. Even after 20 minutes, mine was still quite brothy. But it still tasted wonderful — savory, with a slight hit of heat, and a whole lot of umami goodness.

If you’re in the mood for  comfort food that’s a little different, this dish is for you.

Miso-Smothered Chicken

(Serves 4 as a main course)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

4 bone-in chicken thighs

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups chopped yellow onions

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/3 cup bourbon

2 cups chicken stock

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon dark miso

8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, thinly sliced

Cooked rice for serving

Pineapple-Pickled Jicama (recipe follows)

In a shallow dish, mix together flour, salt, cayenne, and garlic powder. Coat chicken thighs evenly with the mixture.

Heat oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken pieces skin side down and cook, turning once, until golden on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of oil from the pot. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the bourbon and cook until all the liquid has evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the chicken stock, orange juice, soy sauce, and miso and bring to a simmer. Return chicken to the pot, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and tender, about 30 minutes.

Add mushrooms and simmer, uncovered, until the mushrooms are tender and the sauce is thickened to the consistency of gravy, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Serve with rice and pickled jicama.

Ingredients for the pickle jar.

Ingredients for the pickle jar.

Layer all the ingredients in a jar, then refrigerate for a day before using. It's that simple.

Layer all the ingredients in a jar, then refrigerate for a day before using. It’s that simple.

Pineapple-Pickled Jicama

(Makes about 1 quart)

1 small jicama (about 1 pound)

1 small red bell pepper

1 small yellow bell pepper

1 pineapple

1/2 cup distilled white vinegar

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 star anise

3 cloves

A few fresh mint sprigs

Peel the jicama. Cut it into thin matchsticks about 1/4 inch thick and about 1 inch long. Core, seed, and cut the bell peppers into thin ribbons about the same length.

Peel, quarter, and core the pineapple, then cut it into chunks. Place the pineapple chunks in a blender, along with the vinegar and water, and puree on low. Don’t overblend — you don’t want the pineapple juice to foam. Strain juice through a sieve set over a bowl; discard fibrous solids.

Transfer pineapple juice to a small saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Add the sugar and salt and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring to dissolve them. Remove from heat.

Pack the jicama and bell peppers into a quart glass jar, layering them with pepper flakes, star anise, cloves, and mint. Pour the hot pickling liquid into the jar. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 1 day before enjoying; this will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. This pickle also goes well with Asian barbecue of any sort.

Recipes from “Smoke & Pickles” by Edward Lee


More Recipes Showcasing Miso: Ming Tsai’s Chile Miso Pork Stew


And: Tadashi Ono’s Romaine Hearts with Miso-Mustard Dressing


And: Sake-Steamed Kabocha with Miso

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