Between the rich bone broth and warming spices, this recipe feels like an actual hug. It's comforting, delicious, and packed with flavor thanks to ingredients like chicken thighs, ginger, and Chinese five spice.
According to Hunker's Senior Director of Content, Leonora Epstein, this "postpartum chicken" recipe is adapted from a meal her sister frequently made for her after Leonora gave birth to her daughter, Eleanor. "I suffered (and still am working through) postpartum depression and anxiety, and I'm not kidding when I say this chicken dish felt like a weekly dose of happiness," Leonora explains. The warming properties, she says, and the sweet-savory combo, made her feel peaceful while eating it. In addition, she adds, "Because it's cooked down for a while in the bones, you'll get lots of collagen in the sauce, which is supposed to be great for breastfeeding."
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There are several other reasons why this dish may be beneficial for postpartum health. For starters, it's teeming with nutrient-rich carrots and onions. A diet high in veggies is essential for supporting mental health, post-pregnancy and otherwise.
Additionally, the chicken and bone broth offer minerals involved in brain function, including zinc and iron. In fact, low levels of either nutrient is associated with postpartum depression (PPD), according to a 2022 study. Bone broth also contains omega-3 fatty acids, or "good" fats, which have shown to help improve PPD.
Of course, we are ultimately not claiming that this recipe cures any postpartum condition and you should discuss treatment and nutrition with your doctor.
Read on for the full recipe.
How to Make Postpartum Chicken
Things You'll Need
1 1/2 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch sticks
3/4 tablespoon ginger, grated
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 star anise
3/4 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1 1/2 cups bone broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin
3 tablespoons vinegar
Salt and pepper
Rice, quinoa, or millet, for serving
Chopped scallions, for serving
Pickled vegetables, for serving
Sesame oil, for serving
2 tablespoons neutral oil, for cooking
In a heavy pot or large skillet — here, we're using the Always Pan — warm the oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until brown, about eight to 10 minutes. Flip over and repeat on the other side.
Remove the chicken and place on a separate plate. Don't wipe down the pot.
Add the carrots, onion, garlic, and Chinese five spice to the pot. Toss in the leftover grease, cooking for five to seven minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add the bone broth, mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, and star anise. Mix well, then return the chicken to the pot. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Reduce the heat, then let simmer for one hour. After the 30- to 40-minute mark, flip over the chicken. Taste the liquid and add more mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, salt, and pepper, depending on your desired level of sweetness and saltiness.
Remove the chicken from the pot and place it in a deep plate. Using two forks, remove the chicken from the bones.
Return the chicken to the vegetable mixture.
Serve over rice, quinoa, or millet, making sure to include the broth. Top with pickled vegetables, chopped scallions, and/or toasted sesame oil.
When it comes to the pickled vegetable topping, feel free to experiment. Kimchi, which contains plenty of vitamins and gut-healthy probiotics, is a tasty choice.
You can also make a quick pickle. In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup of white or rice vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon sugar. If you'd like, add 1 teaspoon of pickling spice. Pour the mixture over one cup of thinly sliced or spiralized vegetables to the mixture, then let sit for at least 10 to 30 minutes.
For optimal feel-good benefits, serve this dish while it's still hot.