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Monday, March 2, 2009

Salt Roasted Chicken





This is a "double-dog-dare" kind of recipe. Its flavors are based on those found in a true Chinese salt baked chicken - a dish I love to eat but hate to make because I always manage to burn myself (the chicken is buried and cooks in sizzling rock salt). While this chicken is much easier to prepare, it does involve wait time and a special ingredient called Sichuan pepper. Despite its name, this spice is not related to black pepper or chili pepper. It's actually the husk from seeds of a shrub called the Prickly Ash. Sichuan pepper has a unique aroma and flavor that is not hot or pungent; it has a lemony overtone that creates a tingly numbness on the tip of the tongue. The Chinese call this sensation "ma la" which means numbing and spicy. Sichuan peppercorns also have a romantically checkered past. Within China they were used as tribute. Elsewhere, import embargoes caused them to become the object of illegal trafficking. It's now perfectly legal to buy the peppercorns and you find them in Chinese markets and in the catalogues of spice purveyors (i.e. Penzy's). I start this recipe 24 hours before I plan to cook it. Let me walk you through the steps.


Salt Roasted Chicken


Ingredients:
1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorn
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
2 to 3 teaspoons teaspoons fennel seeds
1 3-1/2 pound chicken
2 tablespoons minced ginger
3 tablespoon mirin or other rice wine
2 tablespoons butter or oil

Directions:
1) Place peppercorns, salt and fennel seeds in a small frying pan. Toast over low heat until mixture is fragrant and salt turns a light brown. Remove from heat. Cool. Pulverize in a spice grinder. Set aside.
2) Wash chicken and pat dry. Liberally rub surface and cavity of chicken with spice mixture. Place in a large bowl. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Combine ginger and rice wine in a small bowl. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve. Pour liquid over chicken. Place ginger in chicken cavity. Tie legs. Cover chicken and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
3) Bring chicken to room temperature. If using a convection oven, preheat to 400 degrees F. If using a conventional oven, preheat to 425 degrees F. Place chicken in a roasting pan, breast side down. Brush side of chicken facing you with 1 tablespoon butter. Roast for 30 minutes. Turn bird, brush top side of chicken with reserved tablespoon butter. Cook for 20 minutes longer or until thickest part of thigh registers 175 degrees F on a meat thermometer. Remove to a serving plate. Tent with foil. Let rest 15 minutes before carving. Yield: 4 to 5 servings.

23 comments :

Ning said...

Would you believe I cannot find fennel seeds here in Manila? I have been looking for a month even in specialty stores because I wanted to try out dishes like this! :)

recipes2share said...

The oriental spices sound really delicious. I have made salted chicken once before but, it was marinading it in brine, making a tender bird. These spices sounds so tasty - it looks fantastic!

Martha said...

This looks good, we love roast chicken -- I'll look for the pepper next time I'm at Penzy's.

Mary said...

Ning, the fennel seeds can be ordered on line at places like Penzy's. If you still have problems I can send you some.

Hootin' Anni said...

....and that looks so wonderful!! I bet it's one of the best tasting pieces of chicken around. I may have to try it.

Glad to have you back visiting again. If I remember correctly Fennel also has a 'nutty' flavor, am I right? Or am I thinking of something entirely different.

Mary said...

Annie, fennel seed tastes a bit like anise or licorice.

Donna-FFW said...

OMG! This roasted chicken i so calling my name. It is snowing heavily here, 13 inches so far, and this would be perfect! Looks fabulous!

Maria said...

It was great to see a comment from you! I have missed you! Hope you had a great time. I love fennel!

ChefBliss.com said...

This looks wonderful, very mouth watering!! I'll have to find the Sichuan pepper, it sounds great!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Have to get some Sichuan peppercorns from Pensey's my next trip.
This looks excellent.

Barbara said...

Mary, glad to have you back. Have you posted about all your travels yet? If I missed it, let me know.

Mary said...

Barbara, there are a few small posts about the trip. I put them up when there was time and access to a computer as we traveled. The rest of the trip will be tied into recipes or food discussions over the next few months.

Susan said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Does that mean you are HOME? Missed you even though I read your blogs daily. Hope it was a wonderful trip.

Mary said...

Hi Susan! Yes we are home. We had an incredible time.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Mary, I've never made salt roasted chicken before and it looks fabulous. I'll have to give it a try.

Thanks so much for stopping by my kitchen and signing up as a follower. I'm in a French mood, so as they say, merci beaucoup.
Sam

Pam said...

Mmmm. I love roasted chicken and I am really into fennel seeds right now, so this is my kind of recipe.

Netts Nook said...

Mary it is so nice to hear from you I am glad you made it back and had a nice vacation. Can't wait to try your chicken.

ChefBliss.com said...

Thanks for visiting my fiesta today and welcome home!!

Beachlover said...

this roast chicken really look good!! I roast whole chic once or twice a month. Must try szechuan peppercorn next time when roasting!!

Mary said...

A hearty welcome to all who are new to this blog. Come again! A big thanks to my regulars. You folks did a great job of holding down the fort while I was gone.

Jude said...

This is such a great method for cooking chicken . The salt baking does wonders for the skin!

Mary said...

Jude, good to have you back! The chicken is really nice when cooked this way. I hope you'll be able to try it.

free online adventure games said...

Do you know in Sichuan, China, they actually use a mixture of Sichuan pepper, and dried and fresh chili to make a "ma la" hotpot soup base? The soup really leaves a numbing and spicy sensation in the mouth after drinking. But this is probably the first time I've seen the Sichuan pepper used in this way, as part of roasted chicken. I'd love to try this!

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