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.

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