Wednesday, October 20, 2010


So I just discovered Amanda Hesser’s food blog. A food blog for food bloggers (or the food obsessed); I am addicted. It's full of useful information, arranged in a usable and fun way. Every week they have a contest. Last week’s was for Halloween treats. They haven’t announced the winner yet but I’m routing for the cook that made severed finger cookies, with fake blood and almonds for finger nails. (!)

This week’s contest is for paella. I’m not a big rice fan so I submitted fideos. I’m also not a culinary anthropologist either but my understanding is fideos are more commonly used in Southern Spain, feel free to correct me. My friend George introduced me to them while we were in Spain. To me they really have a better flavor as well. So, no big story here, check out the website and check out my recipe.

Smoky Seafood Fideos - Serves 4

1 - 7 ounce bag fideos (or broken angel hair pasta)

2.5 cups seafood stock

1 cup white wine

1/2 cup water or vegetable broth

1 medium Spanish onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 bay leaf

1 pinch cayenne

1 nutmeg seed - 5 shavings across a mircoplane

1 - 14 ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes

200 mg ground saffron (or medium sized pinch of threads)

1 bay leaf

salt + pepper

12 clams

12 mussels

12 shrimp

3 squid tubes cut in to rings

1/2 cup frozen peas

3 tablespoons parsley

1 lemon

Olive oil

salt and pepper

Coat a pan in olive oil, over medium/low heat add fideos and sautee until they become a warm brown color, about 6-7 minutes, using a slotted spoon remove them from the pan and set aside. Reduce the heat add more olive oil to the pan, if needed, add onion and sautee for 5 minutes until almost translucent, add garlic and sautee for another 3 minutes. Add in smoked paprika, oregano, cayenne and sautee for another minute. Increase the heat to medium add tomatoes and bring to a simmer for 3 minutes, shave in nutmeg, return the fideos to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile bring stock, wine, water and bay leaf to a boil in another pot, reduce to simmering, adding the seafood one species at a time and removing from the pan and reserving. In the stock cook shrimp 2-3 minutes until just pink, squid 1-2 minutes until just prior to opaque, clams a maximum of 6 minutes, discard unopened ones, mussels up to 4 minutes, discard unopened ones. Allow broth to return to a slow boil in between batches. Remove seafood and set aside. Add the saffron to broth and let ‘bloom’ for 2 minutes. Turn the heat off of the broth. Slowly add stock, in 3-4 batches (like risotto) to the fideos , let simmer with broth about 20 minutes, when the pasta has reached desired consistency add in peas and seafood, reheat seafood, let steam for 2 minutes covered. Prior to serving squeeze the lemon over the ‘paella” and sprinkle with parsley. Serve.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

When life hands you apples and oranges

Fall is my favorite season however, I’m lamenting the fact that I did not eat enough watermelon, cherries or nectarines to sustain me through the winter. I usually notice the impending fall around my birthday, which signifies summer is 2/3rds of the way complete. Then, I vow, as I do every year, to eat more summer fruits before it’s all over and I’m faced with apples and oranges for the next six months straight. I typically fail to do this and by September there is a produce section pity party.

Summer certainly slipped away again this year and as soon as I noticed I went to the store to hopefully shake out one last bag of cherries. I was too late. As if they had been abducted by aliens, all of them gone, without a trace. Replaced by strawberries. As if we wouldn’t notice.

I like apples, oranges and pears just fine, but like a bad party guest, they always seem to linger around too long, in fact, they never leave. Perhaps I take their steadfastness for granted, they patiently wait in the same display day after day, but so do bananas. But bananas are fun, you can ‘go bananas’ or ‘get bananas’, but you never ‘get’ or ‘go’ appley or orangey (or peartastic for that matter).

Dinner parties call for desserts. This one is as easy as it gets, it’s not a full blown pie and not overly sweet. I’d dare to call it ‘adult’ but Jim’s kids love it as well.

Apple Galette - Serves 6

Pate Brisee (From the Bouchon Cookbook)

2 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

8 ounces (2 sticks or 16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cubed

1/4 cup ice water


4 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced thin (on a mandoline if you have one)

3 lemons


1 tablespoon butter, melted

2 tablespoons sugar

Make the dough at least a day ahead. this recipe makes enough for two tarts so you can divide and freeze the rest for another time. Place 1 cup flour in salt in standing mixer, turn on low and add the butter in a handful at a time, in about 4 batches, increase to medium speed and when butter is incorporated, stop machine, scrape down sides, turn on to low again and slowly add in remaining flour, followed by the water, mix until just incorporated. remove and divide in to two disks, wrap in plastic wrap.

Cut lemons in half, peel, core and slice the apples on a mandoline. As you slice the apples squeeze lemon juice on them to keep them from turning brown, Add slices and lemons with more juice to a bowl of cold water. Continue slicing apples and squeezing lemons until all are peeled. When ready to bake the tart, remove apple slices from the lemon water and dry on paper towels.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 10’-12” in diameter, place on parchment on a baking sheet, arrange the apples on top leaving an inch-inch and a half edge, fold the edge over roughly crimping, brush apples and crust with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes. Remove from oven let cool on the baking sheet on wire rack. Take care when transferring it to a plate or cutting board, the pastry is very flaky. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

Notes: The butter and the water in the pastry really want to be cold. I throw the butter in the freezer for about 10 minutes prior to using. The ice water as well, I find using the water from the fridge is quite cold or I make a glass of ice water and strain the cubes just prior to using. Many recipes say the pastry is fine to use an hour after making once returned to the fridge. I have not had as much luck with that method and more luck letting the pastry sit overnight in the fridge.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Baby Cabbage

Jim’s kids will eat almost anything. I am so thankful we are not entrenched in the world of chicken fingers or one void of vegetables. These children are food enthusiasts at ages 8 and 4. They will chant for Korean BBQ from the back seat of the car. When asked which popsicle flavor they want I have heard this world weary response; “I don’t know, I’m kind of over chocolate sea salt.” One night Jim was working late and the three of us were going out for a date; I gave them their dining options: BBQ, Mexican or sushi. I thought for sure this would lead to an argument. I was wrong, it was unanimous, sushi. They pigged out on eel and ikura. But they are kids, peanut butter and jelly, mac and cheese, pizza and fluorescent frozen oddities from the ice cream man are also big hits. We can all enjoy such things occasionally.

One day this summer Jim’s son hollered up to our bedroom; ‘Hey Morgan will you make us those green things.’ ‘Green things?’ ‘Yeah, green, you know, they are green and round, like a little green cake.’ ‘Green and round?’ ‘Yeah.’ Still struggling. ‘Is it something I make, like actually make in to a dish or a vegetable I cook?’ ‘Vegetable. A green flower.’ Pause. ‘Brussels sprouts?’ ‘Yeah, will you make us some brussels sprouts?’

I like brussels sprouts. I’ve always liked brussels sprouts. I cut my teeth on boil a bag brussels sprouts swimming in butter sauce. If you eat cole slaw you will like brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts get a bad reputation because so often they are boiled to death. Not dissimilar from those crayon flavored gray things I was served in the cafeteria, you know them, canned green beans. Quite different than a fresh green bean. Over cooked brussels sprouts to a kid is slimy baby cabbage brain. The texture is off and overcooked so is the flavor.

I make these brussels sprouts all the time. And I get many compliments on them, from brussels sprouts lovers and the skeptics. Jim was a skeptic, he is a convert now. I’ve served them without asking people if they like them, because really I cannot imagine not liking them, and I’ve gotten surprised comments like ‘Wow I didn’t know brussels sprouts tasted good!’

Maybe if you call them baby cabbage you can slide them past the unknowing and the uninitiated.

Brussels Sprouts with Truffle Oil - Serves 4-6 as a side dish

1 pound brussels sprouts, end trimmed and cut in half

Olive oil

1 teaspoon truffle oil

Sea salt (preferably something fancy like Maldon)

Preheat oven to 375. Clean and dry the brussels sprouts, get off as much of the water as possible. Oil a baking sheet, place the brussels sprout halves face down on the baking sheets. Lightly brush the tops with a scant amount of olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, toss with the truffle and sea salt.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Oh we’ve all been dumped, if you haven’t, well then ask your mom about that. My college tour took me through Colorado and Vermont. Promptly after I took the requisite traipse though Europe. I took an unexpected detour to London to recover from all the cathedrals, museums, stinky cheese, excessive walking and dirty youth hostels at my friend Alex’s flat. There I got the call that my job request at a theatre in Houston had come through and I did indeed have a future. After 4 years of freezing my booty off in Colorado and Vermont they offered a pittance of salary, slave labor hours, heath insurance and warm weather! The move was on after I returned from doing my laundry in London.

Soon after the move I met that man, you know, the crappy boyfriend we all somehow have to make our way through to find the real deal. That guy, you’ve dated him, your friends dated him or maybe you have been him or are in the process of being him, ahem. He is the guy all your friends raise an eyebrow to, some dare to express their distaste, but usually keep their mouths shut and you just absorb their animosity through osmosis all the while pretending it’s not there. Some of us never find our way away from that guy but fortunately I only had the one, OK, OK one and a half, maybe two. Anyhow, this particular one was - well - to be euphemistic, just awful and the break up a complete disaster. Moving on, I consoled myself with books. Some people buy clothes or eat I bought books. I didn’t go to the library, oh no, full price for me, let’s pay for it. I bought many books the one prized book was, in my opinion at the time, expensive, hard cover too; an expensive cookbook, a whole $30. This book was going to keep me occupied, it would pay for itself.

At this point I was truly teaching myself to cook. Once a show at the theatre was up and running I had a generous amount of time on my hands to clean my house (with a toothbrush, mouldings included) and cook. This cookbook appealed to me because it was basic, clean food, straight forward. I’m not sure I made much else out of it besides the cookies. Let me add, I don’t bake, much. Baking is a science, and scientist I am not and I don’t really like sweets. Cookies make other people happy, especially a theatre full of actors and technicians hanging around work for 14 hour stretches. Somehow I came to disdain the cookbook, I’m unclear if that’s a reflection on the boyfriend or my cooking snobbery. However, I still have it and have toted it around move after move. Jim pulled it out the other day, and I was sort of shocked by its appearance in the kitchen (who let you in the front door?) and the dish he made was elegant and extremely tasty.

The cookie recipe was for chocolate chip cookies and they were way too sweet for me so I kept exploring and changing and reworking them and eventually came up with this recipe. It’s still sweet and it’s not a chocolate chip cookie but it comes from fond memories of tinkering around in that sunny apartment, in my twenties, in Houston on my days off from toiling at the theatre. You can easily make them as chocolate chip if you prefer. It’s nice to revisit them.

Butterscotch Pecan Cookies - Makes 2-3 dozen

2 cups flour

3/4 cup light brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 sticks of butter (8 oz.) (room temperature)

2 extra large eggs (room temperature)

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons baking powder

1 1/4 cups butterscotch chips

1 cup pecans halves lightly broken

1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350. Combine flour, salt and baking powder. Cream together butter and sugars with a hand mixer on slow, add in eggs (one at a time) and vanilla. Once combined add in dry ingredients, slowly, (I do this in four batches) mix until incorporated then add more. Using a spatula stir in candy and nuts. Bake on an un-greased cookie sheet for 15 minutes or until slightly browned at the edges. Let baked cookies sit for a minute or two before removing them with a spatula from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack, this keeps them from collapsing in the middle. Scrape off left behind cookie bits and slightly cool cookie sheet before preparing another batch for the oven.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Soft Boiled Egg. Lime Jello. Chicken Broth.

That’s what I was served as a kid when I was sick. Those foods are probably as close to American comfort food as it got for me. To this day I have never had a piece of meatloaf, chicken fried steak or homemade chicken noodle soup. Last summer I had homemade chicken pot pie for the first time; I also had my first pork chop. I can count how many times I’ve had fried chicken on both hands, maybe even one. I was rarely exposed to potato chips or french fries. Hot dogs and hamburgers were alien to our grill. I’ve got $20 that says a grilled cheese never darkened my childhood stove top.

I also wasn’t toting a mother of pearl spoon and caviar in my Happy Days lunch box either. I teetered in a schizophrenic gastronomy of late 1970s Continental cuisine and the worldly culinary landscape of the Stouffer’s frozen meal. Nightly I enjoyed Noodles Romanoff, Chili Con Carne, Turkey Tetrazini, Swedish Meatballs, Chicken a la King, Creamed Chipped Beef , Chicken Chow Mein. Touring the world one boil a bag at a time. Really these meals were essentially the same formula; a high fat sauce whose sole intent was to utterly drench a starch, maybe with a sprinkling of frozen veggies. My favorite was the most caloric (and exotic sounding): Noodles Romanoff. A giant pink ice cube clad in aluminum foil; it went in to the oven for a torturous 45 minutes! Oh and it emerged a steaming gelatinous runny ooze.

When dining with adults I enjoyed savory crepes, spumoni, steamed crabs, proscuitto e melone, scampi, Rumaki, French onion soup, escargot, steamed artichokes, shad roe, shrimp anything and on. The chicken nugget was not yet invented, nor did my Dad frequent restaurants with ‘Kids’ Menus’ (if they even existed then; I have no idea). I would put on a Laura Ashley dress and we’d head out to a French Bistro or an Italian Restaurant. I guess that makes brie en croute the mac and cheese of my youth.

At age 10 we got a microwave, never to boil a bag again. At 11, I started to teach myself to cook. My first dish, co-authored with my neighbor John, was aptly called ‘cheese melt’. I’m sure this was conceived in some latch key child moment of self expression paired with a need to eat. John and I would take a piece of spongy white bread, smear it with some butter imitating spread, place a square of cheddar cheese in the center, put it on a paper towel and pop it in to the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Out would come a soggy cheesewich seeping not-butter. We would fold it in half and consume it in 3 bites, then make another. This led to many other self authored dishes, (including the less popular strawberry Kwik with Sunkist orange soda) only to evolve slowly and lately here.

This childhood has lead to an adulthood where cooking is done with very few short cuts. If the kids want a brownie we get out the cocoa powder and the mixer. Dinner time is the focus of our evenings, we forego television for the stove and the grill.

The other day Jim did not feel well. Sick Jim is rare and I wanted to make something that fit the feeling. Somehow at the crossroads of my Asian culinary tutelage from Stouffer’s and my adult desire to make up for it egg drop soup popped in to my head. It was comforting and from the ground up it takes 10, maybe 15 minutes. Make it, you’ll feel better for it. Jim did.

Egg Drop Soup - Serves 2-4

4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable)

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons corn starch + 2 tablespoons water, mixed together

2 tablespoons soy sauce

5/8 teaspoon of white pepper

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

1 tablespoon rice wine

2 green onions, sliced green and light green parts

Combine the broth, soy sauce, pepper, ginger and rice wine, bring to a boil, add in cornstarch and water slurry, reduce the heat to a simmer. Stir soup in a clockwise motion, when soup is moving in a gentle clockwise current, slowly stream in the eggs while still stirring. Eggs will cook immediately. Remove from heat and stir in onions. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


No those aren’t anemic meatballs, they are snails and they don’t make for a sexy picture. I’m sure if I had stuffed them back in to those decorative shells or scattered some parsley around it might look better, this is the ugly but delicious reality.

Escargot are really quite cheap and very easy to make. I guarantee you will impress all of your friends with your gourmand savvy and Francophilia. The snails are found in a can at the grocery store. Most grocery stores carry them, they are in the supermarket Siberia with the anchovies and sardines teetering way above the tuna fish. They usually cost about $5 for a can of 2 dozen.

Warning - they don’t smell so great when you open the can. Once, after I had just cracked open a can, Jim’s daughter flitted through the kitchen and blithely asked ‘Who tooted?‘ And the dogs always swarm my feet in anticipation, I’m not sure if it’s the can opener or the aroma. They also are not the most attractive looking morsel, they are snails after all.

As for presentation you could mess around with the shells and tongs but mine was an economic decision and really it’s the same thing just in a different wrapper. I got these snail dishes for about $5 a piece at the Cook’s Warehouse. I also put two snails per divot so all 24 snails fit in the two dishes pictured. I put them in the center of the table and everyone shares.

My recipe is adapted from, yet again, Thomas Keller. I, of course, add more booze to the recipe. I also feel you can stretch the recipe further than he suggests, the butter is enough for 4 dozen snails, or two cans. So I will use half and freeze the leftover snail butter and, like last night, in an instant make our house in to a bistro simply by defrosting the butter and opening one of the cans of snails in our pantry. Unexpected company? Snails anyone? I have no sympathy for the snail squeamish, you are missing out, and you’re kind of being a baby.

Escargot - Adapted from Thomas Keller - Serves 4-8 as an appetizer

1 can 2 dozen snails

8 oz. unsalted butter, softened

4-5 garlic cloves, minced

2 teaspoons sea or kosher salt

1/2 cup Italian parsley

2 tablespoons shallots, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons Pernod

Fresh pepper

Open the can of snails, drain and rinse under cold water. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, put snails in water for 1 minute, the water will just have returned to a boil. Remove snails, drain and rinse again.

Place the remaining ingredients in a food processor and hit ‘on’, turn ‘off’ when fully incorporated. Preheat oven to 450. Place snails in snail shells or in a snail dish or really oven proof ramekins, top each snail with 1-2 teaspoons of snail butter. Place in the oven for 7 minutes, remove, let cool for about 3 minutes before serving. It’s that easy.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Rapunzel, Rapunzel

I received a box via UPS this summer. I receive boxes all the time, every week, typically containing something for work: catalogs, lighting fixtures, lamps, flash drives, miscellaneous swag, the usual. But this box clearly contained something personal. The box itself had been delivered to a few other people before me and it had scratched out names and places on it. It was a little saggy and tired. I considered this box, what a mystery. I started to open it and then had the revelation that I could check the return address; it was from a man I did not know in South Carolina, a town I had heard of but never been to. As I opened it and I sifted through the crumpled ads from a Sunday newspaper it hit me right before I got to it, ‘Oh the apple peeler!’ I had purchased a hand crank apple peeler on eBay the week before and apparently promptly forgotten about it. My summertime daydreaming of fall foods led me to unconsciously go shopping.

This past spring
Food and Wine published a recipe for sautéed rutabagas. Jim loves the whole pack of them; rutabagas, turnips, celery root, etc. I’m always looking for starch-like alternatives and this seemed to fit the bill. The recipe was called Shaved Rutabagas with Butter and Black Pepper, and that is the entire ingredient list except for some sea salt. The directions are very simple and they are exact as well, it directs to saute for 10 minutes, well, it took me 10 minutes until my dish looked like the one in the magazine. Although I only use one vegetable and the original recipe calls for two. I’ve made this dish a few times by shaving the rutabaga with my vegetable peeler, this results in 3/4” wide by 2” shavings. I was certainly in love with the dish but I wanted something more lacy, ribbon like, because I like vegetables in ribbon form (zucchini, carrots, asparagus). I also thought the crispiness ratio would be improved with less surface area and I wanted to twirl that rutabaga on to my fork. So this brings us back to the apple peeler.

After I had unpacked it from the mystery box and clamped it to the counter Jim tested it with a lemon. Jim didn’t get very far with that lemon besides removing an inch of zest and giving it 3 vampire like puncture marks, but we had mastered the mechanics of it! Last night we gave it a whirl (no pun intended).

Rutabaga Ribbons – Adapted from Food and Wine – Serves 4 as a side dish

1 rutabaga – peeled and shaved in to ribbons
½ stick of unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
Sea salt to taste

Add the butter to a wide pan, heat over medium to medium-high heat, add rutabaga shavings, sautee for about 10 minutes until the edges become brown. Toss with salt and pepper.

Notes: Jim’s son has adopted the apple peeler as a toy of his. He enjoys playing with it by clamping it and unclamping and cranking the handle forward then backwards and back again and generally just staring at it quizically. So useless kitchen tool moniker be damned, it doubles as entertainment.

You Don’t Die Square

Yesterday I finished reading Frank Bruni’s Born Round. If you have read the book then you will understand the first thing on my mind this morning as I got out of bed was sesame noodles. The irony is I had purchased the book in the Portland Airport with a bowl of noodles from a newsstand. The noodles, looked like a less offensive choice for airplane dining, filling, not so unhealthy (carrots and broccoli and not swimming in sauce) and most important for a 5 hour flight, not stinky so to not offend my fellow passengers or get stuck with onion. Jim did not get so lucky with his chipotle chicken wrap. I was very pleased with my choice, Frank is quite right, they were comforting.

Sesame Noodles - Serves 4 - Adapted from Tyler Florence

6 ounces soba noodles

2 Tablespoons sesame oil

2 tablespoons peanut oil

3 garlic cloves minced

1” piece of ginger peeled and minced

1/3 cup green onions, green part only sliced

2 teaspoons red chili paste (I use the rooster)

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce

juice of a lime

hot water

4 asparagus stalks, chopped in to small rounds and blanched

1 carrot, chopped and blanched

2 mushrooms, chopped

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

2-3 tablespoons toasted peanuts

Bring water a boil and cook the noodles for 3 minutes, remove from heat and rinse under cold water. Place the noodles on a towel to drain, toss with sesame oil and place aside. Heat peanut oil in a pan on medium heat, add in ginger, garlic, onions and chili paste and saute for about a minute or two. Reduce the heat to low and add in peanut butter, sugar, vinegar, lime juice and soy sauce stirring until the sauce becomes creamy and incorporated, keep the hot water on hand and add in to thin the sauce, Tyler recommends 6 tablespoons, I use closer to 4, the consistency is up to you. Add the noodles to the sauce and toss to coat, add in veggies and 3/4 of cilantro and mix again. Garnish with peanuts and remaining cilantro.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The apology continues...

Yes, the bird again. I am really starting to appreciate it’s versatility, it’s tofu like qualities to take on other flavors. It’s cheap too and it just makes people happy. I had chicken and dumplings for the first time the other day at my neighbors Kevin and Lisa’s restaurant. Gobbled it up. And so the new love affair continues. I saw this in this month’s Food & Wine: ‘Tea Smoked Chicken’. Sounded exotic. The picture was beautiful and so was the chef that created it and the recipe came with a pedigree. Now, outside of Thanksgiving, I usually don’t spend multiple days preparing a dish and certainly rarely go through the numerous steps called for to create this recipe; I’m impatient and such recipes seem fussy. But I was intrigued and the chef, Andrea Reusing, promised it would deliver and for some reason I trusted her, she looked trustworthy and she used the word ‘doozy’. The reality is I don’t know why this woman has not yet published a cookbook. Andrea - I would buy it and I’d buy copies for my friends. Please publish a cookbook. Until then I will use all the recipes in this month’s Food and Wine again and again.

When I rolled out my first try at this Jim and Jayme decimated the bird, picked it clean, n o t h i n g for the dogs, at all. Jayme declared it the best thing I’ve ever made her and Jim said he thought it was damn good and not to change a thing. Jayme then went on to boldly state it was better than the Thomas Keller chicken I constantly make. Take that TK. Girls rule. We had it again last night and I could not wait to get home for lunch today to eat the leftovers. It is a total home run.

I served it, as Andrea recommended, with green beans with her XO sauce. Perhaps that’s another blog, but let me say that the XO sauce was awesome. The blog recommends giving XO as a gift; I’d be happy to have it as a gift. And if I know you and you’re reading this - you might be getting it for Christmas because I know have a lot of tiny dried shrimp in my fridge and not a whole heck of a lot of recipes that call for them. I also served jasmine rice and the ginger scallion dressing Andrea recommends for the chicken. The sauce was baffling to me, vegetable oil, scallions and ginger, that’s it, not heated up, just vegetable oil, ginger and scallions; I was very confused. It actually went great in/on our rice but that chicken is so special it did not need the addition of any sauce, so I say skip it.

Andrea calls for two birds, I used (1) 31/2 lb. bird both times, I did not reduce the amount of brine or smoking ingredients she recommends for both birds. For some reason I could not find loose black tea, so I cut open 10-12 Tazo teabags to create the needed quantity of loose tea. Obviously the type of tea you select will effect the chicken. I found a 50/50 combination of Earl Gray and a less pungent black tea worked the best.

My advice would be to do this on a weekend, make it a Sunday night dinner and start the brining Saturday. Be patient, read all the directions about 7 times before embarking; I know I did. The result is a stunner. I plan to tea smoke a whole bunch of things. Next up, Andrea's Carmel Lacquered Pork Belly.

Tea Smoked Chicken - From Andrea Reusing


2 quarts water
6 garlic cloves - smashed
5 dried red chiles
4 star anise pods
3 tablespoons honey
(1) 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
zest of an orange removed with a vegetable peeler
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup soy sauce
1 small yellow onion, quartered
1 tablespoon sugar

Combine everything in a pot and bring to boil, allow to simmer for 10 minutes, let cool. While the brine is cooking I gather the smoking ingredients and but in a container for use the next day.

Smoking Mixture

1/2 cup jasmine rice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons loose black tea
4 star anise pods, broken into pieces
4 dried red chiles, broken into pieces


(1) 3.3-3.7 lb. chicken
vegetable oil
1 Tsp. crushed Sichuan peppercorns, crushed

When the brine has cooled to room temperature place the chicken in the pot, making sure it is covered in brine and place in fridge for 24 hours.

Remove chicken from brine and pat dry, coat with vegetable oil and sprinkle with salt and peppercorns. For the smoking I used a broiler pan on my stove top. Wrap the bottom portion of the broiler pan 2x in heavy aluminum foil, spread the smoking mixture on the half of the pan over the burner, put the broiler rack on top and the bird on the broiler rack. Tent with foil making sure there is a good seal all around. Turn your kitchen vent fan on now and preheat oven to 375. Turn up the burner to high for 2 minutes, reduce to medium for 3 minutes, turn off heat and keep bird covered for 5 more minutes, uncover and let rest for 10 minutes. Andrea then recommends you cook the bird at 375 for 35 minutes and then at 425 for another 35. I found after turning up the heat I only needed another 15 minutes until the bird was completely cooked. Let rest for 10 minutes prior to carving.