I've been making vinegar chicken for over ten years now. Feels like longer. Today - starting last night, actually - I remixed it, went about it a different way.
I had some drumsticks, see, because there was a sale on chicken leg quarters. And drumsticks kind of suck. They're not great for fried chicken because those tendons running along the bone can be so tough. Roasted works a little better, especially when roasted as part of a whole bird. Braising is perfect - there's a lot of collagen there.
I've made plenty of vinegar chicken with drumsticks, the usual way - chop through the bone, cook them on the stove with vinegar and crushed red peppers until the vinegar cooks off. But this time I wanted the benefits of braising.
I covered the drumsticks in chicken stock and pepper vinegar in the crockpot, and added a few bay leaves, some pickled ramps, and some salt. Brought it up to temp until it was steaming, and then turned it to warm and left it all night.
Took the drumsticks out to cool in the fridge to firm up, and while they did, I reduced the cooking liquid down until it was glossy. Like I said - there's a lot of collagen there, which becomes gelatin.
When it was time for lunch, I deep-fried the drumsticks - no breading or flour, just hot oil - until they were dark and crispy, tossed them in the sauce, and had them with rice and some of the cooked pickled ramps.
It's a similar effect - rich, tart and vinegary, spicy - but the meat itself is so much better, and is permeated with the flavor of the pepper vinegar.