Secret Ingredient Beer-Braised Chicken

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Beer Braised Chicken
Beer Braised Chicken

Happy 2013 everyone!

A new year brings new beginnings, renewed hopes and resolutions.

Now I ask you this: Are New Year resolutions destined for failure?

I saw this eCard circulating on Facebook and it sums up how I feel about New Year resolutions:

eCard_skinny sober

I feel that just by using the world “resolution” destines the deed to failure.

So I’m not going to resolve to do anything this year. I will, however, focus on living life to the fullest which includes eating things that are bad for me (in moderation), developing better personal relationships, and to stop using the phrase, “there’s never enough time.”

Semantics, you say?

Whatever works, I say.

As for Scotch, each new year brings a renewal of his resolution to stop drinking alcohol (last year, he made it 3 whole weeks).

To help rid the house of the leftover 2012 beer, I made a dish of beer-braised chicken using a secret ingredient that imparts a smokey flavor into the sauce…

Beer Braised Chicken
Beer-Braised Chicken

Oh, and not only is there a secret ingredient but this dish is also a one-pot meal. Who doesn’t love minimal usage of pots and plates and thus minimal cleanup?

So what is the mystery ingredient?

Lemon thyme? No.

Allspice? Nope.

Five-spice? Def no, I can’t stand that smell.

There are actually no herbs or spices in this dish (salt and pepper don’t count) and the depth of the flavor comes from dry-frying thin slices of ginger. 

And there you have it – the secret ingredient is dry-fried (or pan-fried) thin slices of fresh ginger.

To do this, heat up a pan over medium-low heat – the same one you will use to braise the chicken. Do not add anything to the pan – no water nor oil. Then, slice some ginger as thinly as you can and place them into the pan.
After a minute or so, flip the ginger over to dry-fry the other side for another minute. Do not allow the ginger slices to burn like I did below (see the slice to the upper left?) or your finished dish will taste bitter. Unless you like bitter.

Dry Frying Ginger
Dry-Frying Ginger

Dry-frying the ginger in this way will add a smokey flavor to the sauce.

Any kind of beer should work – I have used Heineken, Guinness, and even a pale ale – different types of beer will impart its own flavor into the stewing liquid. I would recommend using braising cuts like the legs and thighs but if you must use breast meat then only simmer for 15 minutes instead of 30 otherwise the meat will turn out too dry.

For a non-alcoholic version, substitute the beer with non-alcoholic beer, chicken stock or even Coke or Dr. Pepper.

Our local grocery store stocks these chestnut mushrooms which I love using because they have more of a bite to them than the white button mushrooms.

I add two teaspoons of corn starch at the very end while reducing the sauce to thicken it up a bit. But if you like a more soup-like consistency, feel free to skip this step.

The end result will be tender chicken with a smokey ginger gravy (it won’t taste like traditional ginger).

Enjoy and share!

*   *   *   *   *

Beer Braised Chicken

Chinese Beer-Braised Chicken

Ginger and Scotch
Beer-braised chicken with smokey flavors imparted by an initial dry-frying of ginger slices.
5 from 2 votes
Course Entree
Servings 2


  • 1- inch piece of ginger , very thinly sliced
  • 2 lbs (900 kg) Chicken, legs or thighs or combination
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 onion , sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic , sliced
  • 1 bottle beer (I used 17 oz or 500 ml)
  • 1 carrot , chopped
  • 4 oz (110 g) button or chestnut mushrooms, halved
  • 1 large potato , quartered
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch mixed with equal part cold water , optional
  • Salt and Pepper to taste


  • Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Salt and pepper chicken to taste and set aside.
  • Heat a medium pan over medium-low heat.
  • Add the ginger slices in one layer. The pan should be dry with no water nor oil.
  • Allow the ginger to dry-fry for 1 minute (do not stir) then turn the slices over and allow to cook for another minute. Do not allow the ginger to burn - remove any burnt pieces.
  • Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the vegetable oil and swirl it around the pan to coat the ginger. At this point, you can take out the ginger slices if you don't like biting into them at the end of the dish. (I left them in.)
  • Add the garlic and onions and saute for 5 minutes until the onions are softened.
  • Pour in the beer and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan to incorporate them into the beer liquid.
  • Add the carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes, and simmer 20 minutes, covered.
  • Add chicken, cover and simmer 30 min. If using breast meat, add during last 15 minutes of cooking so it doesn't overcook and dry out.
  • Remove the chicken to serving dishes and turn up the heat to reduce the liquid by half - about 5 minutes.
  • Stir the optional cornstarch mixture to make sure the starch is dissolved. Add to the reduced liquid and cook for 1 minute. Turn off heat.
  • Spoon liquid and vegetables over chicken and enjoy!


*For a non-alcoholic version, substitute the beer with chicken stock or even Coke or Dr. Pepper.


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Recipe Rating


  1. Looks so delicious! I haven’t used Coke in cooking before, so this looks interesting. I might have to make it spicy too (for my family to like it). Would Coke and red chili powder make a deadly combination? Or maybe I can add green chilies instead.

    Happy new year! 🙂

  2. Whoops – I’ve just published my resolution list….but I like your attitude too. I’ve never dry fried ginger like this…will give it a try, would love to see how it affects the flavour. Happy New Year.