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Apr 5, 2013

Slow Cooker Mahogany Chicken Legs

Slow Cooker Mahogany Chicken Legs

In looking for something to serve along side the Hakka style cabbage and egg dish I made last weekend, I came across a recipe for mahogany chicken in Art of the Slow Cooker: 80 Exciting New Recipes

The recipes in this book are not your typical "dump and run" dishes that give slow cookers a bad reputation. They require a little prep, (in this case, about 10 minutes) but it's worth it.

Slow Cooker Mahogany Chicken Legs

What was most difficult for me was locating the dark soy sauce that gives these legs their mahogany look and interesting flavor. First I went to the local Korean market, but they had mostly Korean and Japanese soy sauces (and shelves and shelves of soy sauces). I bought one that said "dark soy sauce" in tiny print on the back, and then posted a photo on the Wok Wednesdays Facebook page, hoping that someone could tell me if I was on the right track. Within a couple of hours, I heard from Grace Young, the author of Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge: The Ultimate Guide to Mastery, with Authentic Recipes and Stories. How cool is that?

I hit the local Chinese supermarket and found exactly what I needed. Thank you Grace Young!

The dark soy sauce is second from the right in the photo below...
Slow Cooker Mahogany Chicken Legs

Next quest... find Shaoxing wine, Chinkiang vinegar, and Szechuan peppercorns. I'm sure both of these stores have these ingredients but I was racing against time to get a slow cooker started and the dark soy was the key ingredient. (Did I just use racing against time and slow cooker in the same sentence?) Fortunately, both of these stores are within a mile of my house.

Slow Cooker Mahogany Chicken Legs

This chicken is amazing. This recipe is based on the "red cooking" method of Chinese cooking. The flavor is hard to describe. It's sort of savory sweet, and the chicken is just fall-off-of-the-bone tender. You will need to eat it with a fork. Serve it with sticky rice and a vegetable.

Slow Cooker Mahogany Chicken Legs


2 T vegetable oil
10 chicken legs
1 C dark soy sauce
1 C regular soy sauce
1/2 C dry sherry
3 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 C dark brown sugar
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 T hoisin sauce
1 T Dijon mustard
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
3 slices of peeled ginger
2 tsp ground aniseed
1 tsp sesame oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced


  • Heat the oil in a large skillet (or if you have a slow cooker insert that works on a stove top, you can use the insert to save on dish washing)
  • Sear the chicken in the oil in batches for about two minutes per side. 
  • Arrange the chicken legs in the slow cooker so that all of the legs are in a single layer.
  • Combine the soy sauces, sherry, vinegar, sugar, peppercorns, hoisin, mustard, garlic, ginger, and aniseed in a saucepan or the frying pan and bring to a boil. 
  • Pour the mixture over the chicken legs, cover, and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours or on low for 6 to 7 hours. 
  • When the chicken is done, move the legs to a serving platter, sprinkle with the sesame oil, and top with the scallions.

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