4 chicken thighs (or vegans: 3 cups cubed winter squash, directions found below)
1/4 cup of flour of choice (whole grain or gluten-free flour can be used here)
1 teaspoon salt
Oil for frying
1 onion, diced
1/2 tablespoon of 5 spice (see recipe below)
1 long red chili, seeded and thinly sliced (or substitute 1 teaspoon red chili sauce)
4 tomatoes, chopped
4 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch chucks
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or for a soy-free option substitute coconut aminos)
1 tablespoon of sweetener of choice (I used honey)
1-3/4 cups of water
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and place it in a shallow bowl. Coat the chicken thighs with the flour mixture and shake off excess.
3. Heat a small amount of oil in a hot ovenproof heavy bottomed pan or pot (that has a lid) and brown the chicken on both sides. This should take about 2 minutes per side. Remove the chicken and set aside.
4. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Add the onion and cook until onions become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the 5 spice and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, being careful not to burn the spices. Add the remaining salt, tomatoes, carrots, soy sauce (or coconut aminos), sweetener, water, and stir to combine. Bring it to a boil and nestle the chicken pieces among the vegetables. Depending on the size of pan you may need to add a little more water.
5. Cover the pot with a lid and place it in the oven for 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve it with steamed greens and rice
Vegan option: Skip the chicken and use cubed pumpkin or winter squash. Peel, seed and cube 3 cups of your favorite winter squash (like butternut) or pumpkin. Toss the squash with the flour and salt mixture. Skip the browning process. Add the squash to the pan at the same time as the tomatoes and carrots. Add the water, bring to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and place it in the oven. Cook for 40 minutes or until squash is tender.
Notes: If you would like the broth to be thicker and more like a sauce, add 2 tablespoons of the remaining flour salt mixture left over from coating the chicken or squash and fry it up at the same time as the onions. Continue with the rest of the recipes as directed.
Homemade Chinese 5 spice
1 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper
1 teaspoon ground star anise
1 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Transfer the spice mixture to a airtight container.