Chicken meat is one of the most common form of poultry in the world.This Beggar’s Chicken recipe (also known as Baked Chicken) is a traditional Chinese dish, as popular with tourists as with far eastern gourmets. Main materials of this dish call for a chicken, leaves and pond mud. When the chicken is packed with delicate fillings, it is the lotus leaf and mud wrapping that makes this chicken so tasty, tender and intriguing.

Story of Beggar’s Chicken or Baked Chicken recipe:

In China, there are many dishes where the name originated from a folklore, legend, or story. Like some popular food, Beggar’s Chicken also has a romantic tale behind it.The legend about the beggar”s chicken is a Hangzhou beggar invented it.

A starving beggar Hangzhou (杭州) area in China during the Qing dynasty is said to have stolen a chicken and was hotly pursued by its owner. In his haste he buried the chicken in mud near a riverbank to hide it. Later that night he returned and retrieved the chicken, its feathers covered in mud. He started a fire of twigs and branches to cook the chicken. But not having any utensils he placed the entire chicken directly into the fire. A tight clay crust formed as the fowl cooked, and when the crust was cracked open the feathers came right off the chicken exposing juicy tender meat and emitting an incredible aroma. The roasted chicken was so delicious that he decided to start selling his creation to the villagers. Unbeknownst to him he had just invented one of the greatest culinary traditions of China.

Beggar's Chicken recipe

Beggar’s Chicken can be found in many chinese restaurants. Because of the laborious and lengthy cooking process most restaurants require advance notice to order. If you ever find a restaurant that serves nice this dish and you wish to order it be sure to call ahead.Or,why don’t you try to make Beggar’s Chicken yourself?

Ingredients for Beggar’s Chicken recipe:

  • 1 whole chicken (about 1.5 kg)
  •  enough pork caul fat to wrap chicken
  •  3 large dried lotus leaves
  • 8 lbs. of non-toxic pottery clay
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

Marinade for Beggar’s Chicken

  • 4 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon whole clove
  • 4 tablespoons light soy sauce (生抽)
  • 2 tablespoons Shao-Hsing wine (紹興料酒)

Stuffing for the chicken:

  •  8 ozs. small shrimp
  •  8 ozs. pork tenderloin
  •  4 ozs. Smithfield ham
  •  4 ozs. bamboo shoots
  •  8 medium dried shiitake mushrooms
  •  1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
  •  2 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
  •  2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  •  2 tablespoons light soy sauce (生抽)
  •  1 tablespoon Shao-Hsing wine (紹興料酒)
  •  4 star anise
  •  1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper

  Steps to cook Beggar’s Chicken or Baked Chicken recipe

  Preparation time: 1 hour 30 minutes  ; Slow cooking time: 2 hours

1,Combine all the ingredients of the marinade in a small saucepan and heat  heat for about five minutes over low until the spices are infused into the liquid. Let cool before pouring over the chicken in large bowl. Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least five hours or just over night.

2, Clean and cut the pork into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside. Clean and devein the shrimp and set aside. Reconstitute the dried shiitake mushroom in hot water. Dice the ham, bamboo shoots and shiitake mushrooms into about 1/4 inch cubes and set all aside.

3,  In a wok add the vegetable oil and heat until the oil just beginning to smoke. Add the chopped ginger and scallion into the wok and stir-fry for about a minute. Add the pork, shrimp, bamboo shoots, and mushroom and stir-fry for about three minutes or until the meat is just about three quarter done. Add the rest of the Stuffing ingredients and stir-fry for another three minutes or until the meat is completely done. Place the stuffing in a bowl and let cool.

4,  Reconstitute the lotus leaves in hot water and set aside for later use. When the stuffing is cool enough to handle remove the chicken from the marinade and brush off the spices. Stuff the chicken and tightly cover the entire chicken in the caul fat. Place the chicken on a piece of lotus leaf breast side up. Fold the leaf over the sides and wings of the chicken onto the breast. Fold the other sides of the leaf to cover the head and tail of the chicken. Flip the wrapped chicken over and place it on another lotus leaf and repeat the folding. Flip the chicken again and wrap a third leaf around it. The chicken should now be completely covered. Tie the wrapped chicken tightly with butcher’s twine. Cover the entire package with a layer of clay about 1/4 inch thick.

5,  Bake the chicken in pre-heated 400 Degree F oven or in covered grill for about two hours.

Steps to cook Beggar's Chicken

Steps to cook Beggar's Chicken 2

6,When ready to serve,Lift foil-wrapped chicken onto serving plate and carefully remove foil. Crack the clay and unwrap the lotus leaves. Remove the stuffing and place in a serving dish. Pour sesame oil over the stuffing. Serve the chicken on a platter with the lotus leaves as a base.

Note:If you cann’t find pottery clay or just don’t want to use pottery clay.You may use clay dough instead.

For clay dough:

  • 1 kg fine salt (yes that’s right 1 kilo salt !)
  • 4 cups flour;1 3/4 cups water (approx.)

 1. To make the dough, mix flour and salt in a bowl.

2. Gradually stir in water. Mix into a firm dough ball with your hands, a little extra water may be needed. Do not have the dough too soft or it will be hard to handle.

Beggar's Chicken using clay dough

The 1 kg cooking salt in the dough recipe does not influence the taste of the chicken – just ensures that the dough bakes rock-hard as protection for the chicken during the long cooking time.

{August 17, 2010} {Tags: , , }