Easy oriental part 7 – Tea Smoked Chicken

Tea Smoked ChickenThis 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.

Tea Smoked ChickenThe ingredients

  • 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.

A totally gratuitous 'Chicken placed in boiling water' shot. Nice, eh?

A totally gratuitous ‘Chicken placed in boiling water’ shot. Nice, eh?

Return it to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

The chicken and the ginger on the way back to the boil.

The chicken and the ginger on the way back to the boil.

While it is simmering, pour some boiling water over the mushrooms to reconstitute.

Reconstituting the mushrooms and my pouring shot reputation at the one time.

Reconstituting the mushrooms and my pouring shot reputation at the one time.

Mix the sugar, tea and peppercorns.

The tea, sugar and peppercorns mixed together.

The tea, sugar and peppercorns mixed together.

Chop the spring onions in two.

Plenty of spring onions equals plenty of flavour.

Plenty of spring onions equals plenty of flavour.

Chop the mushrooms.

Plenty of mushrooms does the same as plenty of spring onions.

Plenty of mushrooms does the same as plenty of spring onions.

Remove the chicken from the water and let it dry, finishing the inside with kitchen paper.

BOOM - A steaming chicken shot like no other.

BOOM – A steaming chicken shot like no other.

Season with salt and Szechuan peppercorns.

A good bit of salt and pepper go a long way to adding to the flavourfest.

A good bit of salt and pepper go a long way to adding to the flavourfest.

Stuff the chicken with the spring onions, ginger from the boiling and the mushrooms.

My apologies if you find this shot vaguely disturbing. I certainly did.

My apologies if you find this shot vaguely disturbing. I certainly did.

Spread enough kitchen foil to make a ‘Chicken tent’ in a roasting tin. Spread the sugar mixture over the bottom of the tent.

Have you any idea how difficult it is to photograph so much aluminium foil?

Have you any idea how difficult it is to photograph so much aluminium foil?

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.

The chicken at the half smoked stage. It doesn't look like much.

The chicken at the half smoked stage. It doesn’t look like much.

Paint it with sesame oil and return it to the oven for another 20 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes or so.

Now it really is starting to look tasty. The aromas are impossible to describe.

Now it really is starting to look tasty. The aromas are impossible to describe.

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.

You won't be disappointed with this delicious Chinese chicken.

You won’t be disappointed with this delicious Chinese chicken.

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.

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Latest comments
  • That looks amazing. And you made me laugh out loud on a Monday morning. Congratulations on both counts.

    • Thanks Linda,
      Glad to be of entertainment service on a Monday.

  • The chicken sounds delicious…I’ll have to use some of my morning Earl Gray tea. I can imagine how hard it was to photograph the foil as well as capturing the steam. Good job!

    • Thanks Karen,
      It was a bit of fun to do and tasty as a result.

  • “2 tablespoons of any leaf tea except the Wife’s breakfast tea”
    I think you should do a solely Asian food blog because all of these are too good!

    • Yes, but the other stuff would have to go somewhere. I would need to get more time to run two blogs. One is difficult enough!

  • Given our current weather situation (a person does not want to be outside in it), this might be a nice alternative to traditional smoking for a duck. We’ve only got two left from our hunting efforts last season. I’ll give it a try one of these days.

    • Hi Amber,
      Well worth it. I suspect the Duck might need more cooking, to render the fat somewhat.

  • Glad to hear it didn’t actually end in divorce. That’s a delicious looking and well-stuffed chicken! You’ll be glad to hear I’ve been making full use of my new chopping board – wonderful!

    • I can’t bring myself to use it yet. Board meeting date approaches. I had better get on with it!

      • I had to force myself. I’ve resolved to chop on one side and keep the other pristine.

        • I have been oiling it. It improves the appearance and makes the chopping even more difficult.

  • Looks wonderful, Conor. I have never attempted to do a tea smoked anything. Any smoking is done outside in the big smoker and they just don’t make tea leaves large enough for it. If I were to try to smoke this inside, with my luck, I would set off the fire alarm well before the chicken was ready. 😮 Of course, the fireman would have a lovely meal when they arrived. 😉
    Love the shot of the chicken with the steam coming off of it. Very nicely done. The aluminum foils shots were also very well done. Reflective surfaces are such a challenge. Kudos to you on this one. 🙂

    • Thanks Richard, I do suffer smoker envy. My own smoker is a small thing that I have to take out from the shed to assemble for each smoking. It becomes a bit of an occasion. However, we are planning some smoked duck from it very soon.

      • I love smoked duck. I have a recipe for smoked duck gumbo I haven’t made in years. I should probably pull it out and dust it off.
        If you like smoked duck, you should try the duck pastrami while you’re at it. No reason to waste the smoke. 😉

        • I will be to the pin of my collar just getting a couple of duck breasts brined and smoked. More anon…

  • Absolutely beautiful. Thanks for risking your marriage to share with us this lovely looking post. I would have never though of using tea leaves on chicken. I’m going to try this!

    • Do give it a whirl. The flavours are pretty subtle but worth the minimal effort involved.

  • Conor does ‘chicken tent’ mean sealing the chicke up completely with tinfoil?

    • Hi Fiona,
      Yes, that is the idea though it will not be totally sealed, not unless your tent folding is better than mine, if you know what mean?

  • Lovely recipe. Great shot of the steaming chicken! A bit envious. The shot of the mushrooms and scallions stuffed up the chicken brings to mind the story of how the angel got the tree stuffed up her…. 🙂

  • Great stuff Conor – no smoker used either making this a more ‘accessible’ dish to cook too. I’m intrigued by the tea flavouring. Peppermint tea smoked lamb? Hmmm..

    • I’m looking forward to your post Phil. I certainly won’t be doing it!

  • Personally I won’t allow anything into the house except Barry’s Gold Blend, but perhaps the chicken deserves something more oriental. Great chicken 😉

    • I must introduce you to my youngest. She won’t try anything but Barry’s. She has a tea closed mind at 22.

      • Ha ha – I had 40 years of trying all the other teas before discovering Barry’s. It can be hard to find in England 😉

  • The chicken looks delicious with all of the great aromatics. Nice wine pairing, too!

    • Thanks Shanna,
      The wine was a present from a friend who knows his wine. It was pretty nice with it.

  • Wonderful post, Conor! Love the steaming chicken and the stuffed chicken shots. I’m especially impressed by the technique to smoke in a tent (and managing to take a photo as well). I’ve never smoked anything with tea, so that’s something to try as I am curious what it tastes like. Glad you didn’t steal the poor wife’s tea for this 😉 Also glad the buttery chardonnay went well with the chicken.

    • It was a perfect pairing. Thank you again. I look forward to deciding on the right dish for the other bottle.
      The problems to have…

  • What a fantastic idea! My occasional forays [usually on a dare] into the smoked chicken field have not been done in the oven so simply and neatly!! Have to try this and impress myself and others in a hurry methinks 🙂 !

    • Thanks Eha, Well worth a go. A good chicken is a very good starting point.

  • I really must try this.

    • Hi Mike,
      Do, it is very nice and pretty subtle.

  • Wow Conor, that chicken looks cooked to a tea, err, tee. Well done. Glad the Wife enjoyed just as much.

    • Tee hee!

      • Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • These are the greatest photographs yet! I always get a little queasy when I see a photograph of an uncooked chicken. Not this one! And the steam coming off? Brilliant. And the recipe is so creative and looks like a wonderful dinner.

    • Thanks for that. I was pretty happy with that steaming shot. It really was delicious.

  • Such a high bar you’ve set for yourself. Now you’ll have to add a steaming shot along with a pouring spot to every post! I’ve never tried tea smoking anything at home, but I know the results can be delicious (as that obviously was).

    • The steaming shot requires a cold day with little or no wind. Then I open the back door and when the cold air gets at the warm chicken – steam! They are rare enough events.

  • Love the shot with the steam rising (I’m not alone I see). Air of Houdini about it 🙂 Sheila

    • Thanks Sheila,
      I got lucky with that one.
      Happy 2014 to you.

  • I make a lovely cup of lemon and ginger every morning (and I do mean every morning) for the wife before I go to work. But I don’t think she drinks it. Habit. And re the mushrooms – are they not a bit gritty? I mean I’ve tried them before and I swear they put earth in them to add some authenticity…

    • Good of you on the tea. On the mushrooms, yes, occasionally but I have found if you spend a few bob more, there is an inverse relationship between money out and dirt in.

  • Great looking bird Conor. Glad your wife was pleased in the end. 🙂

  • Wives are funny about tea. I was recently given a kombucha mother, which needs periodic refreshing with tea. My wife suggested I “use up all the old tea.” Please. Would you feed your mother old anything? Sound like a great recipe. I had assumed that tea smoked chicken actually was smoked, but you don’t mention vapors coming out of your oven. Anyway sounds delicious. Great cleaver, by the way, and yes, that shot is disturbing–I don’t have one of those in my collection yet. Ken

    • Hi Ken,
      There are no clouds of choking smoke. It is far subtler than that. If fact, there was very little smoke at all.But tee process did impart a delicate tea/smoke flavour to the chicken. Well worth it. The cleaver is one of the bargains of one’s lifetime. I bought mine for £10 about 25 years ago. Still going strong. Last time I looked, they were selling at about €20. Most large Asian supermarkets carry them. Lovely to use.

  • Haha, I love the way you write Conor. Mm, tea is definitely a serious business, good to see that you used it to its full potential in this wonderful smoked chicken dish! Love that golden hue from the smoking. I can imagine how delicious it’d taste. Oh, and the chardonnay? I haven’t drink a glass of that in years! I’ll need to revisit the old faithful, definitely with this chicken!

    • I am often astounded by the effect (or should that be affect) fashion has on wine tastes. I am not ashamed to admit that I like a nice glass of buttery Chardonnay. There, I have said it!

  • this looks amazing! I am very possessive of my nice teas as well, but this dish sounds tasty enough to be worth sharing it with the chicken 🙂

    • Obviously we are divided about that over here.

  • Never simmering my chicken or duck first before tea smoked, sounds interesting technique Connor…
    I guess this must be my next project then!!!

  • I will be trying this one Conor! It looks amazing!

    • Simple enough and subtle. An unusual combination indeed.

  • Great recipe and photos. I love the steaming chicken shot.

  • I should be writing and instead I am going through all your wonderful chicken posts – I am now hungry and anxious – which one will I try first?

    • The tea smoked is delicious. It is pretty subtle. This is not something I generally manage to achieve, either in my writing or my cooking. Take it while it’s going…

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