We found a two-ounce package of this distinctive tea in our cupboard. It smelled so good - smoky, caramel-y, rich. Neither of us could remember where it came from, but we had just bought a brick of pu'er tea on a recent visit to Boston's Chinatown, so we decided to use this package to make Tea-Smoked Chicken.
Before we go on, we should share a hard-earned tip. When you are tea-smoking a chicken, open the windows in your kitchen, turn on a fan or two. This method of ours makes a LOT of smoke. It reminded us that we need to replace our smoke detector batteries...
Anyway, we digress. First we dry-brined the chicken in kosher salt for about three hours in the refrigerator. Then we smoked the chicken on our stovetop with a smoking mixture of the pu'er tea, raw rice and sugar; this took about 25 minutes. Finally, we baked the chicken with a basting glaze made from garlic, ginger, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and Szechuan peppercorns. The meat was very juicy, really tender, and extremely flavorful. The skin was salty and smoky and sooo very yummy. Tea-smoked success!
We really enjoyed this chicken, and so we ate quite a bit of it that night, but when two people sit down to eat a whole chicken, there's bound to be leftovers. So the next night, we used our easy pho recipe and made Leftover Tea-smoked Chicken Pho. And we had leftovers from that, too! So from one $5 chicken (on sale!), a few pantry ingredients, some tea (which, it turns out, is pretty expensive, but you can use any tea you want!) and a little bit of fresh produce, we ended up with six individual meals. That works for us!
1 whole chicken
1/4 cup kosher salt
2 ounces loose tea
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns, crushed
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
pinch granulated sugar
Rub the chicken inside and out with the kosher salt. Place in refrigerator and allow to dry-brine for 2-3 hours. When ready to cook, heat oven to 375. Line a large roasting pan with two layers of aluminum foil. Combine the tea, rice and sugar in a bowl and pour into the roasting pan over the foil. Place a roasting rack over the tea mixture and set the chicken on the rack. Create a tent of aluminum foil over the whole pan and set over high heat on the stove top. Allow the chicken to smoke on high heat for 15 minutes, then turn heat off and let it sit in the smoke for another 10 minutes. In the meantime, prepare the basting glaze. Whisk together the peppercorns, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, garlic, ginger and sugar and brush about half of it over the chicken. Place uncovered in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes (or until temperature reaches 165) , basting occasionally with the remaining glaze. Allow to rest for five to ten minutes before serving. Use leftovers to make pho using this recipe.