Poaching chicken in a simple lemongrass broth will make your home smell like chicken soup and Froot Loops in a nice way, and we could just stop there and eat ridiculously tender chicken and sip on a flavorful broth. But velouté is my favorite of the French mother sauces, made by thickening a light stock (traditionally chicken, fish, or veal) with a light roux, so why wouldn’t we do that here? After the chicken poaches, we’ll turn the poaching liquid into a velouté, and broil the chicken with some snap peas to crisp the skin and render the peas helplessly delicious. You’ll need a fair amount of liquid to keep the chicken submerged, so this recipe makes plenty of sauce, which a nice loaf of bread can help you take care of.
- In a large saucepan, combine the water, onion, lemongrass, garlic, cloves, and the 1⁄2 tablespoon salt. Submerge the chicken legs in the liquid. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is firm to the touch and the skin of the drumstick is starting to pull back from the bone. Transfer the chicken to a platter and let the skin air-dry while you make the velouté. Strain the poaching liquid through a medium-mesh sieve and set aside.
- To make the velouté, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until completely combined. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring regularly, until the mixture smells like toasty butter but the flour has not begun to brown. Slowly pour 2 cups (480ml) of the poaching liquid into the roux, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. It will steam and hiss aggressively, which is why you’re not supposed to mix hot liquid with hot roux, but you’re a rebel and a very cautious one at that, so I am not worried about you. Turn the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil, whisking constantly. Add the lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
- Heat the broiler. In a small mixing bowl, toss the snap peas with the 1 teaspoon salt and the oil. Spread them out on a half sheet pan or roasting pan and add the chicken legs, skin-side up. Put the pan under the broiler and broil for 5 minutes, until the chicken skin is brown and bubbly and the snap peas are dark around the edges but still nice and green.
- Divide the chicken legs and snap peas into four shallow bowls, ladle some velouté over each, and serve.
Reprinted with permission from Food52 Dynamite Chicken: 60 Never-Boring Recipes for Your Favorite Bird by Tyler Kord, copyright © 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Photography credit: James Ransom © 2019