Recipe 18: Hangzhou Beggar’s Chicken

I’ve read and seen recipes where you cover a fish or bird in salt and bake it, but beggar’s chicken takes it a step further—encasing a bird in clay. Why “beggar’s” chicken? The story goes that a beggar man had a chicken, but no means of cooking it, so he covered it in mud to cook it over a fire. Considering the mud in my area is half poop and I don’t exactly have easy access to clay, I found a recipe that used flour dough as the blanket to keep in the flavor, and boy did it. This was some of the juiciest chicken I’ve had. Plus, it was fun to chop open the hardened dough with a cleaver. It’s usually stuffed with pork, but I was out, so I used regular bread stuffing. The ingredients were the usual, with my added garlic of course. The dough could be a little difficult if you’re not used to working with it like I am. And the chicken can be a bit of work if you’re not used to it (still not) Is there a quicker and easier way to clean out giblets?

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Backyard chicken?

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Mix the spices with the stuffing

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Stuff that chicken!

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Foil that chicken!

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Dough that chicken!

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Cook that chicken!

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Cleave that chicken!

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Eat that delicious chicken!

The Recipe (serves 4-6)

What you need:

  • 1 small chicken (no more than 3 lb), sans giblets, and rinsed
  • 6 tbsp soy sauce
  • 5 cloves diced garlic
  • 2.5 tbsp oil
  • 2.5 tbsp brandy
  • ½ tsp 5-spice (I only had garam masala)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Half a medium onion, diced

For the “clay”:

  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 cups salt
  • 1.5 cups water

What to do :

  1. Place chicken on aluminum foil
  2. Rub 2 tbsp of soy sauce and oil on and under the skin
  3. Tuck the wings under the chicken
  4. Mix remaining ingredients with stuffing (traditionally, you would mix them with shredded pork)
  5. Put stuffing inside of chicken and wrap in the foil
  6. Combine flour and salt in a bowl
  7. Mix in a little flour at a time until you have a firm dough
  8. Roll out the dough enough so that it will cover the entire chicken
  9. Fold the dough over the chicken (crease on top) and pinch together to seal completely
  10. Place chicken in a well-greased pan
  11. Bake at 450 f (230 c) for 1 hour, followed by 300 F (150 C) for another 2.5-3 hours (until dough is dark brown; about 1 hour per pound)
  12. Remove from oven and use a mallet, hammer, or cleaver to open
  13. Serve the chicken only. Do not eat the dough, it will be very salty!
Sooo juicy

Sooo juicy

Hangzhou Beggar’s Chicken (杭州叫花鸡)

Difficulty:

It was more time-consuming than I would've liked. But  more seasoned dough makers and chicken handlers would have no trouble!

It was more time-consuming than I would’ve liked. But more seasoned dough makers and chicken handlers would have no trouble!

Tastiness:

Like I mentioned, some of the juiciest chicken I've ever had!

Like I mentioned, some of the juiciest chicken I’ve ever had!

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