This recipe originally appeared in our Winter/Spring 2022 issue. Get the magazine here.
Mix the chicken, soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper in a large bowl. Cover and marinate for 1 hour, turning the chicken halfway through. Remove chicken from the marinade (do not discard), letting excess drip off. Transfer to a plate and pat skin dry with paper towels.
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Brown the chicken in two batches. For the thighs, cook skin-side down until browned and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes, then flip and cook 2 minutes more. Turn the drumsticks every 2 to 3 minutes until browned all over, 10 minutes total. Transfer chicken to a plate.
Add the onion to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot, along with 1 cup water, the reserved marinade, vinegar, brown sugar, peppercorns, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Cover and simmer until cooked through, about 30 minutes. Uncover and increase the heat to medium-low, cooking at a more vigorous simmer until the sauce reduces to a gravy consistency, 25 to 30 minutes more, and turning the chicken periodically. Skim fat from the sauce, if desired. Garnish with sliced scallions. Serve with jasmine rice and, if desired, hard-boiled eggs.