Beggar's Chicken

Beggar's Chicken via The Yankee Chef, Jim Bailey

Beggar's Chicken

Prep Time

15 minutes

Cook Time

45 minutes

Serves

4 people

The origin of Beggar’s Chicken, although seemingly far­fetched, is undoubted. In the early 19th century, in China, a very poor, starving man was wandering the streets in search of food and he found nothing, not even scraps that were usually thrown out the door for the passing dogs and stray cats. Spotting a chicken running around, he ran after it in hopes of a dinner.

After catching it, he wrestled his grip around the neck of the fowl and killed it quickly. He immediately ran to an alley and built himself a fire. While he built a bed of coals in which to roast his dinner, he plucked the bird, slathered a thick layer of mud all around it and nestled this mud­laden meal in the coals to cook. After a spell, he removed it from the embers, cracked the dried, brick­lick coating and began feasting.

At that same time, the emperor had been traveling on the main street and had his carriage halted to walk to a shop for whatever goods struck his fancy. Upon exiting his carriage, the emperor noticed a delicious smell coming from the alley. Upon examining the source of this delectable odor, he approached the dining beggar and asked of what he was dining on. The beggar looked up at him, his hands and lips shining with the juices of his chicken and replied, “The Beggar’s Chicken.” The rest is history!

To this day, Beggar’s Chicken has graced almost every Asian table in every home. In the past few decades, however, many Chinese diners refuse to call it Beggar’s Chicken, the name not being appealing to those with circumstance.

The popularity of another name has taken over, so our great tasting recipe is more often referred to as “Rich and Noble Chicken” now – Believe it or not! Beggar’s Chicken is traditionally baked in foil that has been enveloped in a flour, salt, and water dough, mimicking the original preparation of mud. This helps keep all the steam and drippings in.

Use 4 cups flour and 3 cups salt mixed with 1 1/2 ­2 cups water. This recipe is perfect for your outdoor grill as well.

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Ingredients

  • 1 broiler/fryer chicken (2 - 2 1/2 pounds)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder*
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon dried ginger
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preparation

  • 1 Preheat oven to 425­ F. Rinse and pat dry the chicken.
  • 2 Place the chicken on a large piece tin foil sheet that has been greased with nonstick cooking spray, enough to wrap the chicken completely.
  • 3 Place on a large baking pan with at least a 1/2-inch high sides. Combine soy sauce, sugar, 5-spice powder, onions and ginger in a small bowl.
  • 4 Rub the chicken with 3-tablespoons soy sauce mixture and then rub with oil. Pour remainder of soy sauce mixture into the cavity of the chicken. Some sauce may run out but this is fine.
  • 5 Tightly wrap foil around chicken and crimping well on the top of the chicken. Roast at least 45 minutes at 425 F.
  • 6 After 30 minutes, slide rack out from oven, carefully un-crimp foil and leave open to continue cooking an additional 15­-20 minutes, or until done.
  • 7 *To make your own Chinese 5­-spice powder, simply combine 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon nutmeg, 1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds (or ground star anise, both are very similar), 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves.

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