This post could have almost as easily been titled “Prelude to a divorce”. You need to understand that the Wife is a lady of habit. One of the fulcrums around which she runs her life is her mugs of tea. Not tea-bag tea. Proper leaf tea. I have even been swayed over to enjoying a mug or three at 06:30 most mornings. So when I suggested that I might use a couple of tablespoons of our regular tea leafs to cook a chicken, I got a pretty frosty reaction.
That got me rummaging in the press in search of any other leaf tea. I unearthed Barry’s, Lyons, Tetley’s decaf, peppermint, jasmine, camomile, orange and mango, winter berry, lemon, juniper, ginger and even nettle teas, all in tea-bags. At the back of the press, unloved and unopened lay a pack of Tea Book brand leaf tea, all the way from Ceylon. Not being our breakfast tea, this would have to do the job.
- 1 free range chicken
- 1 handful of dried Chinese mushrooms
- 12 spring onions
- 5 cm (2″) of fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons of any leaf tea except the Wife’s breakfast tea
- 1 tablespoon of Szechuan peppercorns and extra for seasoning the chicken
- 2 tablespoons of sugar
- Salt for seasoning
- Sesame oil to brush the chicken.
Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Slice the ginger. Put the ginger into the water. Add the chicken.
Return it to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.
While it is simmering, pour some boiling water over the mushrooms to reconstitute.
Mix the sugar, tea and peppercorns.
Chop the spring onions in two.
Chop the mushrooms.
Remove the chicken from the water and let it dry, finishing the inside with kitchen paper.
Season with salt and Szechuan peppercorns.
Stuff the chicken with the spring onions, ginger from the boiling and the mushrooms.
Spread enough kitchen foil to make a ‘Chicken tent’ in a roasting tin. Spread the sugar mixture over the bottom of the tent.
Place the chicken on a rack in the tent.
Complete the tent before placing it in a 200º C oven for 40 minutes. Remove the chicken from the oven.
Paint it with sesame oil and return it to the oven for another 20 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes or so.
Chop the chicken, through the bones, into bite sized pieces. Serve with the stuffing, some baby sweetcorn (cooked with some ginger and a little soy in the wok) and some nice boiled rice.
The chicken takes on a nice ginger back note and has a distinctive tea flavour. It is absolutely delicious and preparing it is well worth risking the marriage. Thanks be to goodness the Wife enjoyed it as much as I did.
Side note on wine choice. I served this with a delicious buttery Chilean Chardonnay. A Chardonnay delivered by a very thoughtful friend. I know that is sooooooooo unfashionable (the wine, not the friendship). I also know that it is the perfect wine to go with this dish.