Life is funny sometimes. My cousin got married Friday evening, and we all had a great time. My sister is getting married next month. Today was SUPPOSED to be her bridal shower. We wanted to have food, but keep it kind of light, and chicken salad was the idea. Except that my sister doesn’t really eat mayo, so I decided that I would come up with something that would keep her happy too. As you might imagine, I have lots of cookbooks, and although I may not have made anything out of all of them I have read through them, and sort of picked out anything that might come in handy for later. In this case I went to my copy of Heart of the Artichoke for this recipe. I decided to adapt it slightly for my needs. I made everything for the party before I knew it was going to be snowed out!
I had made tea smoked chicken before, but this turned out far better. It also took longer, but I think the results justify the extra time. The nice thing about this particular smoking method is that it was a little less intense. The chicken was pre-cooked and so all I needed to do was give it enough time in the smoke to give it flavor, rather than trying to cook it through. The first step will give you a very tasty broth which you could certainly eat if you wanted. I just don’t have space for that at the moment, but I did taste it, and it was very nice.
6 chicken legs quarters, salted and peppered (I broke them down into thighs and legs just to make them a little easier to deal with)
water to cover
1″ piece of ginger peeled and chopped roughly
2 cloves of garlic chopped
4 green onions, sliced into 1″ pieces
3 star anise
Season the chicken and allow it to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours. Place in a large pot and add the water and all of the other ingredients. Bring up to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for about 30 minutes, and then remove the chicken legs from the water. Allow the broth to simmer for another 30 minutes and adjust the seasoning. (If you want to keep it. I didn’t.)
On to the smoking! Here is where you want to make sure you have good ventilation! You can use the method I used in my previous post, or if you have a stove top smoker you can use that. I have a Cameron’s stove top smoker, and it works very well. It also uses less of the wood chips or tea in this case.
Cooked chicken legs
1/2 cup tea leaves (Yes, you can use Lipton)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup raw white rice
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 – 3 star anise crushed
Preheat the oven to 400F. Combine everything but the chicken legs in a bowl, and line a skillet with foil, and add the tea mixture to the bottom if the skillet. Then place a rack on top, and place the chicken on it. Place the lid on the skillet, and turn the heat on high. When you start to hear the sugar crackling and smell the smoke, give it two minutes, and then turn off the burner and place the whole thing in the oven for 10 minutes. Don’t take off the lid to check, or you will lose all of the smoke.
If you’re using a stove top smoker, follow the manufacturer’s directions for how much wood chips (tea) to use. You can still use the time above.
Once the chicken was smoked I pulled the meat off the bones, and roughly chopped it into bite sized pieces.
Next I made the ginger lime vinaigrette.
Vinaigrette dressing are very simple to make, and add lots of flavor to a salad. In this case it complimented the chicken very nicely! You can use a whisk to make this dressing, but I almost always use my food processor. It chops up the shallots and ginger for me, and makes quick work of emulsifying the dressing. Mine is a small one, and for doing recipes like this it works perfectly.
1 shallot finely diced
1 garlic clove minced
2 teaspoons finely diced or grated ginger
(I just dropped all three in the food processor, and let it do what it does!)
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?)
1/4 cup neutral oil, canola, grape seed
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
juice of 1/2 lime
I also added about 1 Tablespoon of honey just to balance out the flavors a bit.
If you’re doing this with a whisk, add the shallots, garlic, and ginger to the bowl, and add the lime juice, vinegar, honey, and mustard, and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the oils, until combined. If you have a food processor you can use the same order. It will just go a bit more quickly.
To serve your salads, mix a little of the dressing with the chicken, and then place a handful of spring greens on a plate (I drizzled a bit of the dressing on the greens as well.) Place the chicken on top of the greens, and add some sliced cucumber, and finely sliced scallions! Enjoy! It was a nice lunch with my family even if the shower was canceled!
As I continue in my quest to keep myself entertained, and fed I ran across an idea that was given to me years ago by a friend who was in culinary school at the time. I had a duck, and no idea what to do with it. She recommended tea smoking it. I made duck a’la orange instead. Today I only had chicken, but I had tea, so I made tea smoked chicken.
First thing, I wanted to marinade the chicken to keep some moisture. I put the chicken in a vacuum bag with some San-J Polynesian glaze. Next time, I might try something else, but this was pretty tasty.
Next, I got my tea mixture together. I took 6 tea bags, a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/4 cup of uncooked rice, and one star anise, and combined that in a cup. The really important thing I did was to line my skillet with a double layer of aluminum foil. The tea went in the center of the pan. I also took the rubber feet and the plastic handle off my steamer basket. I sprayed that with non-stick spray, and placed it in the pan. The chicken went on the steamer basket. Then obviously, put the lid on, tightly!
The only thing left was to put the chicken on the stove. (In hind-sight, 20-20, you know outside on my Coleman Stove would maybe have been a better idea.) I opened my back door, and turned on the fan to blow as much smoke out as possible. It didn’t smoke a lot, but my apartment does smell a little smoky now. After about 12 minutes on high, I pulled the lid off and checked. The chicken was done, and nice and juicy, and had a really nice mahogany color. I served it with some rice, and sautéed carrots and snow peas.
Next time I will do a few things differently, but it was a tasty experiment. Tons of flavor, and pretty quick. I know, I know, why was I making a smoker on my stove? Three layers of foil next time. I’m also thinking that cutting the chicken into cubes will speed things up. The smokiness was a bit intense, and less time in the smoke would take the edge off of that.