Lotus root has the marvelous property of staying crunchy and toothsome no matter what you do to it. Lotus root is also beautiful, with its whimsically shaped holes, and inexpensive, and it tastes wonderful, like a combination of water chestnuts and parsnips. When lotus root combines with leeks, which more or less melt as the two cook together, the combination becomes homey and earthy and somehow transcendent; it’s the perfect bed for spiced baked chicken.
- Yield: 4 to 5 Servings
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus a little for the chicken
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus a little for the chicken
- 2 cups chopped peeled lotus root (about one 10-inch segment)
- 2 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (1 large leek)
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh oregano leaves or 2 tablespoons dried
- 5 skinless boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground star anise
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add the lotus root, leek, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and sauté for about 10 minutes, until the leek softens. Add the oregano, mix, and transfer the mixture to a clay pot. Spread it out evenly.
- In the same large pan or wok, heat a little more butter and olive oil over high heat. Add the chicken, star anise, and some more salt and pepper and cook until the chicken is nicely browned on all sides but still raw in the middle, about 7 minutes. Transfer to the clay pot and bake for 40 minutes. Serve in the clay pot.