1 frying chicken, about 4 ½ pounds, cut into 8 pieces with the backbone
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced from root end to top
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
One (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained of half the liquid
Three 3-inch cinnamon sticks, preferably “true” cinnamon
3 star anise pods
1 ½ cups torn leaves cinnamon basil, or sweet basil, gently packed
Season all sides of the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid. When the pan is hot, put the chicken pieces in the pan, skin side down, and cook uncovered until the skin turns deep golden brown, at least 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook another 2 to 3 minutes on the other side. Take the chicken out of the pan and pile it on a platter.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic, and ginger to the pan. Stir them around for 3 to 4 minutes, or until they soften and begin to brown. Add the tomatoes, cinnamon sticks, star anise, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Put the chicken back in the pan. When the tomatoes come to a simmer, cover the pan, turn the heat to very low, and cook for about 50 minutes, or until there is little resistance when you pierce a thigh with the tip of a paring knife. If the sauce seems watery, turn the heat to high and boil it uncovered until it thickens. Scatter in the basil as you toss the chicken in the sauce with tongs. Serve right away.
Yield: 4 servings
Adapted from The Herbal Kitchen by Jerry Traunfeld