This recipe is based on the recipe for Beggar's Chicken found in Eileen Yin-Fei Lo's hefty cookbook, The Chinese Kitchen. I'm sure many of you own this cookbook. It has quite a few elaborate and somewhat complex dishes in it. What I have found with many of the dishes in this book, is that the seasoning of the dishes are quite mild. Still, it's fun to play........
I find more than a bit of irony in the name Beggar's Chicken, as it is a fairly elaborate dish. And I would really have to stretch my imagination to believe, that if I were a beggar, I would even be considering making this chicken dish......
One more key note. Even though the presentation of the chicken in this dish can be pretty stunning; it's the stuffing that makes this dish. As wonderfully juicy as the chicken is, without the stuffing, it would be quite bland.
So on the day before making the chicken prepare the stuffing. There is a stuffing recipe in the book, but I prefer something like the Glutinous Rice Stuffing here. The chicken will be amazingly juicy, so all the juices soaked up in the rice is so...delici-yoso!!!
Part 1 - The Lotus Leaf
Trim and soak 2 lotus leaves in hot water for 30-45 minutes(the book says twenty, but that's not enough time), unfolding and turning every 10 minutes, until leaves are saturated.
Part 2 - The Chicken - here's what we worked with.
1 - 4lb Chicken
1/4 Cup Salt
Remove excess fat from the chicken and wash under cold water. Dry, then rub salt over the outside of the chicken, rinse again, and dry well.
Part 3 - The Marinade
4 Tb Gin
1 3" Piece Cinnamon broken into 4 pieces
2 Star Anise
2 Tb Sugar
1 Tb Salt
Dash on White Pepper
In a bowl combine marinade ingredients, and rub the exterior and interior of the chicken.
Part 4 - The Dough
5 Cups High Gluten Flour
11/2 - 2 1/2 Cups Hot Water
Additional Flour as necessary
Place flour on large cutting board or another surface. Make a "well" in the center of the flour. Add the hot water slowly while mixing the flour with one hand. Knead dough for 2-3 minutes, coat hand with oil to prevent sticking, and add flour to keep from sticking to kneading surface. Roll out dough to a size large enough to wrap the chicken. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Part 5 - Stuff that Bird!
And close openings with skewers.
Part 6 - Wrap it up.
You'll need the Lotus Leaves, Flattened Dough, and 2-3 feet heavy duty Aluminum Foil.
Shake Lotus leaves dry. Wrap the chicken in Lotus Leaves, make sure leaves overlap, and the edges of the leaves are on the bottom. Place the Lotus Leaf wrapped chicken(breast side up) in the middle of the dough and wrap, sealing the top completely.
Place dough wrapped chicken in the middle of foil and seal completely.
Part 7 - Cook that Bird!
At 350 degrees F, for 1 hour, then lower the temp to 325 degrees F for 3 hours. Great time to make some side dishes...maybe some Crab and Corn soup, and Spicy Stove Braised Eggplant.
After the time is up(at last!!) remove chicken from the oven, and fold back the foil.
You can now either cut right down the center of the dough and separate, or cut around the dough and remove the top.
You'll find the chicken to be very, very tender and moist. In fact, you just stick your spoon right into the middle of the chicken, and scoop out both the chicken and stuffing.