My absolute favourite thing to order at my local Chinese restaurant is their tea-smoked chicken. It's unbelievably tasty, so I always thought it would take forever to prepare. In fact, it takes about twenty minutes from start to finish - hooray!*
After experimenting with different types of tea, I've found Lapsang Souchong to be the best when in need of a nice smoky flavour, but pairing it with lemon and ginger teabags takes the tangy, juicy flavour to a whole new level. To intensify the flavours, you could add chopped ginger and lemon rind to the smoking mixture - but don't worry if you don't have the time or the inclination because it's delicious without.
I served these with honey and sesame vegetables and some rice with fresh coriander stirred through it, but this also works really well chopped up into a stir-fry.
*Obviously, the sides you prepare with it take a little longer.
Cheaty Lemon and Ginger Tea-Smoked Chicken
For the smoked chicken:
- 1 lapsang souchong teabag
- 3 lemon and ginger teabags
- 2 tbsp white rice
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 chicken breasts
For the honey and sesame veg (optional):
- 2-3 carrots, chopped into batons
- 1 parsnip, chopped into batons
- 1 large courgette, sliced into discs
- A healthy drizzle of honey
- 1-2 handfuls of sesame seeds
- Chuck the carrots and parsnip into a foil-lined roasting tin and coat them with oil, salt, and pepper. Pop them into a pre-heated oven (I had mine on 190 but it's a fan oven) for around fifteen minutes.
- Mix together the contents of the teabags with the rice and sugar. Line a flame-proof roasting tin (or a wok) with tin foil, and pour the mixture on top.
- Take another square of foil that just about fits the bottom of the pan, and pierce it with lots of holes so the smoke from the mixture can get through. Put this to one side for now - you don't need it until you add the chicken breasts on top of it later.
- Take the roasting vegetables out and add the courgette, giving it a good stir to coat it with the oil in the tin. Then it's back in the oven for 10 minutes.
- When you've got about five minutes left on the veg, put the tin/wok with the smoking mixture in on the hob on a high heat until it starts to smoke. This is probably the point where I'd open all the doors and windows or turn on the extractor fan, as things start to get a bit, well, smoky.
- Coat the chicken in a little olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Then score the breasts with a knife so the smoky flavour can penetrate inside as well.
- As soon as the tin is smoking, put the pierced layer of foil you prepared earlier on top of the smoking mixture and pop the chicken breasts on top. If you're using a wok, put the lid on. If you're using a tin, seal the top with another layer of foil so as little of the smoke escapes as possible.
- By now your courgette's ten minutes should be up, so remove from the oven and spoon out the excess oil in the pan. Then drizzle the vegetables in honey, and sprinkle a healthy amount of sesame seeds on top. Then it's back in the oven for a final ten minutes while the chicken cooks.
- After the chicken has been on top of the smoking mixture for about ten minutes, check to see if it's cooked. These next couple of minutes are vital: don't let the chicken cook longer than necessary or it will dry out very quickly.
- When you're sure it's done, take off the heat and serve with the sticky, gooey vegetables (and rice, if you want some extra stodge). The chicken should be moist and flavoursome.
A gorgeous wine match is a honeyed South African Chenin Blanc or an aromatic Gewurztraminer - and you get lots more time for wine-drinking because all the foil means there's very little washing up to do - bonus!