Sometimes Those PBS Shows Inspire Great Cooking

by Jeff Berkowitz on March 25, 2011 · 0 comments

in Chicken

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Some of you may know that I have had a bit of trouble with my shoulder. So much trouble that I had to have surgery on it last summer which forced me to convalesce on the couch for a month or so. While I was healing I watched a little too much television and one of the shows I watched was a Steven Raichlin show on the local PBS station. Besides offering me a chance to poke fun at his delivery which can be a little dry at times he gave me a few really good ideas. I never had the where-with-all to write any of these ideas down (thank you low functioning adrenal glands) but I did come away with at least one winner.

On one of the episodes he was discussing the art of using tea and rice to get a great flavor for Asian smoked foul…or…yeah, he was smoking something…something…maybe it was duck…I really seem a little fuzzy on the episode…no, maybe it was chicken…he smoked something…maybe I looked it up on the internet…his techniques are good…maybe it was a dream…nah…I wish I could remember…it is just his delivery…I have these pictures…I must have cooked it once, maybe twice…but there are these pictures…he had great scenery…they look damned good…I am really not sure where I got the recipe…did I dream it…damn I wish I could remember…anyway, here is what I think I cooked.

Tea Smoked Chicken: Most recipes for anything like this start with marinating the chicken in what amounts to teriyaki marinade for at least four hours or up to 12 hours…Then most of the recipes I have seen call for using jasmine tea and jasmine rice as the smoking materials, some do say to use spices, but none of them use all of these spices. I am not sure that the type of rice or tea is that important, but I will do more research to answer these and other important questions. The main point is that I used what I had and the results were incredible.

Marinate The Trussed Bird, Turn Frequently

½ cup soy sauce

½ cup rice wine (any good dry white wine will do, but rice wine is best for this)

½ cup brown sugar (or honey, white sugar, palm sugar or any relatively natural sweet thing…we are improvising here)

4 cloves garlic mashed

4 slices fresh ginger mashed

Mix all of the ingredients together making sure that the sugar is dissolved. Use ½ of the marinade to season the chicken and use the other ½ to baste the bird for the last ½ hour of cooking. Marinate the bird, (tied…I always tie up the birds…It keeps them from flying around in the smoker),  in a zipper style bag and get all of the air out. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours turning frequently. When ready to smoke remove the chicken from the bag and pat dry. Prepare the smoker…

Tea, Rice And Spices. (I put the whole skillet in the smoker)

The smoking material is as follows:

½ cup rice (I used jasmine rice…or was it medium grain rice…no it was definitely sweet rice…ok, it was rice)

¼ cup tea (I used Lapsang Souchong which is smoked black tea…so I thought it would be good and it’s cheap and good)

7 pieces star anise

3 cinnamon sticks (at least 3 inches each)

2 Tbsp Szechuan peppercorns (use black peppercorns if you don’t have Szechuan peppercorn which is usually available at better markets)

Mix all of these ingredients together, place in a cast iron skillet or smoker box of your smoker (if it is so equipped) and prepare the smoker. My smoker has a water bowl that goes between the heat and the meat which works well to keep the air in the smoker moist. Set the whole thing up and let ‘er rip.

I smoked the chicken for about 4 hours and man did it smell fantastic. The smoke was rich with the fragrance of the spices and permeated everything from the chicken (which was what I was aiming for…I think) to the outdoor furniture and even the windows {yes they smelled like spice smoke for too short of a time :-( …} The meat was moist and tender and the skin was sweet and smoky. I will definitely do this again…if I remember…

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