Day 9 – Drunken Chicken
That’s the problem right there. With our heavily processed, mass-produced, hormonally enhanced and fast growing birds, no wonder they taste of nothing. For this dish, you need the best chicken you can afford.
A corn-fed bird is a good start. Organic and free range is even better and more readily available in supermarkets than ever before. A 1.5kg bird will easily feed six people and you can use the leftovers in a sandwich, use the bones for stock and, as you are about to find out, the leftover poaching liquid of this dish makes a fantastic soup. You’ll certainly get more than one meal from your investment and the taste? Wonderful.
Serves 6 people with rice
1 x 1.5kg chicken, preferably free-range and organic or corn-fed; 1 tbsp sea salt; ¼ tsp white pepper; ¼ tsp black pepper: a piece of ginger, about 3-4cm in length; 6 spring onions, sliced diagonally; 375ml shao sing rice wine; 1 tbsp sugar
Wipe the bird and cavity with paper towels and pat dry. Mix the salt with white and black pepper and rub the mixture well into the skin of the chicken. Set it aside for one hour in the fridge.
Fill a large saucepan or stock pot with 1.5 Litres (6 cups) of water. Trim the skin off the knob of ginger, then cut the ginger finely into very thin strips and add them to the pot of water with the diagonally sliced spring onions. Bring the stock to a boil.
When the water is boiling carefully lower the chicken into the pot making sure there is enough water to cover the bird. Immediately lower the heat to a bare simmer. Cook the bird in this gentle simmer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, turn off the heat, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and leave the chicken undisturbed in the poaching liquid until the water is back at room temperature.
Fill a large bowl, big enough to hold the bird, with cold water and as many ice cubes as you can find.
Pull the chicken out of the poaching liquid – take care not to break the skin with the tongs – and plunge it into the icy water. Reserve the poaching liquid for later. Leave the chicken in the ice water for two minutes, then remove it. Use a cleaver or very sharp cook’s knife and cut up the bird in half, then remove the legs. Chop the thighs and drumsticks in half, right through the bone. Cut the wings through the joint.
Trim the remaining chicken halves of the back bone, then cut through the breast and ribcage breaking it up into several pieces.
Put all the chicken pieces into a container big enough to hold it all comfortably.
Mix 1 cup of the reserved poaching liquid* with the rice wine and sugar in a jug and taste test it. You may want to add a pinch of salt or a dash of soy if you find it too sweet. Pour this liquid over the chicken pieces and cover, then chill at least overnight.
To serve, place the chicken pieces on a clean plate, spoon a little of the liquid over the meat and scatter a few extra spring onions over the top. Serve it cold or at room temperature with hot steamed rice, some steamed asian vegetables or some salads.
*The remaining poaching liquid can be strained of vegetables then frozen until you are ready to use it as a stock or base for a great soup. Just don’t throw it out, it’s a wonderful resource to have in the freezer.
$15.50 using a free-range or corn-fed chicken.