This recipe uses an incredible cooking technique Andrew first came across in Hong Kong, where chickens are baked street side in bags, buried in salt.
This recipe uses an incredible cooking technique Andrew first came across in Hong Kong, where chickens are baked street side in bags, buried in salt. After the first time Andrew cooked this for me, it became a go-to recipe when I’m cooking for friends and family.
The nature of serving it at the table with a grand reveal makes it the perfect centrepiece for any occasion, be it a lazy Sunday lunch, or pulling out all the stops to impress. It’s easy to prepare, meaning less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests. When cooking for my kids (who are the most meticulous critics), this dish has just the right amount of beige – and the added theatre of cracking open the chicken from the salt crust – to get their seal of approval every time.
We like to serve the chicken with one of our favourite condiments: ginger and spring onion relish. It is very universal and I love it simply folded through some soba noodles and topped with a fried egg. This dish is easy to adapt to any season by changing up the sides. In winter, I reach for hearty roasted root vegetables. In summer, I precook the chicken and serve it cold with a fresh, crispy salad. One thing is for sure, the meat will be incredibly tender and moist, with a unique depth of flavour. This is no-risk cooking at its best!
This recipe is a perfect reflection of how I like to cook – drawing inspiration from a time and place. There is nothing like a dish inspired by travel, be it yours or someone else’s. The nostalgia that food provokes, and how we like to revisit that time and tell the story through sharing food with friends and family, is one of life’s great joys.
TROY WHEELER and ANDREW MCCONNELL’S COOKBOOK MEATSMITH IS OUT NOW.
size 18 (1.8kg) chicken
2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
2cm piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 golden shallots, halved
1 tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2kg rock salt
steamed rice (optional), to serve
Ginger and Spring Onion Relish
1–2cm piece fresh ginger, finely diced
5 spring onions, thinly sliced
120ml grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Rinse the chicken under cold water, then pat it dry with paper towel and set aside for it to come to room temperature. Brush the chicken with the rice wine, then put the sliced ginger, shallots and lemon into the cavity. Mix the ground ginger, white pepper and salt, then use to season the chicken all over, also adding a pinch to the cavity. Tie the drumsticks together with butcher’s twine. Wrap the chicken twice lengthways in baking paper, then wrap twice crossways, so the chicken is completely enclosed in baking paper. Tie the parcel with butcher’s twine to secure the paper.
Line a tray with baking paper and cover with the rock salt, then transfer to the oven for 15 minutes until hot. Carefully add a 1cm layer of hot salt to the bottom of an ovenproof saucepan large enough to fit the wrapped chicken. Place the wrapped chicken on the bed of salt and spoon the remainder of the hot salt over the chicken so it is completely immersed. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and set aside for 10 minutes, then transfer to the oven and cook for 1.5 hours. Remove from the oven and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes without removing the lid.
Meanwhile, to make the ginger and spring onion relish, put the ginger and spring onion in a small stainless-steel bowl. Heat the grapeseed oil in a small saucepan over high heat until 150°C, then carefully pour it over the ginger and spring onion (it will bubble and spit). Stir well to combine, then set aside to cool. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil and salt.
Remove the chicken parcel from the pan, brush away any salt and place in a large serving dish. Using a pair of scissors, open the parcel (at the table for full wow factor). Carefully remove the chicken from the paper and carve. Serve with the ginger and spring onion relish and steamed rice on the side.
First published in Ed#703