This is perhaps one of the simplest recipes I’ve ever posted. It is one that requires almost no effort when it comes to dinner time. One that everyone in my family loves. One that requires only a few ingredients and some spices. (Have you been building your spice cabinet?) It has taken over as my favorite way to utilize a fresh, locally-raised speckled hen from North Market Poultry and Game. I will suggest that you get the freshest chicken you can lay your hands on. Pay a little bit more for the chicken than you think is reasonable. Trust me that it will make a difference in this dish. Because chicken rice is about two things: chicken and rice. They need to be good.
The ease of this recipe is that the chicken is poached and then allowed to cool in the stock over several hours. It’s also sometimes called white chicken. Essentially, you cook it for 30 minutes in the morning and then when it’s time for dinner, make a pot of rice and gather some soy, vinegar and spices for your condiments. Dinner can be on the table in fifteen minutes and is a symphony of Singapore flavors.
Ingredients: Ginger, whole chicken, rice, soy sauce, a green onion, vinegar, a spicy chili, coarse salt, Szechuan peppercorns, fresh cilantro. Optional lettuce.
For the chicken:
Take a whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds, and remove the giblets. In a deep stock pot fill with enough water that will cover the chicken. Into the water slice a 3 or 4 inch piece of ginger. No salt. Bring water to a boil. Add in the chicken. Bring back to a boil and boil for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for another 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool in the stock for at least 5 or 6 hours. This can even be done the day before, just don’t refrigerate it. Really.
When it’s time to sup, cook up a pot of rice. While that’s simmering away, mix the spices for serving. Original inspiration for these are from Rick Stein’s Food Heroes cookbook. In a small bowl combine 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar and slice a small hot chili into it. In another small bow, mix 1/4 cup soy sauce and a sliced green onion. In a third bowl combine 1 tablespoon kosher salt with 1/2 teaspoon of finely crushed Szechuan peppercorns (use a mortar and pestle if you have one or use a knife to chop very finely).
To serve, remove the chicken from the stock and joint it, though it will be decidedly easier, as this chicken is already cooked. Serve the chicken family style on a platter along with a bowl of the hot rice, the seasonings and cilantro and lettuces (iceberg is cold and crispy and nice with this). Everyone can add their own amounts of each different spice to the rice and chicken. I love the onion and soy, but think the spicy vinegar is just as important. PK tip: If you can, give those Szechuan peppercorns a try. They are so unusual as the heat or spice from them is strangely numbing, you just a need a tiny bit. This is one of those meals that the end result is greater than the sum of its parts.
Playlist included Flathead, by the Fratellis.