So as I mentioned previously, Mark Bittman was my saviour, twice last week. He could be yours, too! His Hainanese Chicken with Rice is a fantastically delicious, relatively healthy, easy to make, curative. You can find it in his ever-handy How To Cook Everything
Everyone I know is sick or is just recovering from horrible snotty, phlegmy illnesses. This recipe might just nurse you and your loved ones back from the brink.
You won't see me writing about poultry that often, because A. is a hater. Yes, it's tough to deal with, but he has so many other wonderful and endearing qualities that I am learning to live with this major flaw. I usually confine my chicken cookery to Wednesdays when A. has his radio show and comes home too late for dinner. Fe. and I go to town! Hainanese chicken and rice is a favorite of ours.
This recipe produces a vat of chicken stock fragrant with garlic and ginger. You can easily sip or slurp your way to health for the better part of a week with the stock that remains after the rice is made.
I had no idea you could do this, but the gentle poaching of the chicken that takes place mainly occurs with no flame under your pot. You bring a very large pot of water up to boil, and you add your chicken, smashed garlic and ginger and salt. You simmer for ten minutes and then turn off the flame. The chicken bathes in the hot liquid for an hour and presto, your chicken is done.
I dig that.
The rice is made by sautéing chopped garlic, shallot and the raw rice, itself, in peanut oil and then simmering it in the stock you have just prepared. It is mighty tasty, if a little on the oily side. I kind of like that, though.
The rice is topped with shredded chicken, sliced cucumber and tomatoes, chopped green onions and a generous handful of chopped cilantro. I didn't bother peeling the Persian cucumbers I used, and I chose halved cherry tomatoes in lieu of whole ones.
A super-quick-to-prepare dipping sauce of peanut oil, chopped ginger, chopped green onion and salt is served on the side. It's amazing that what may just seem like a small bowl of oil, is actually a savory and quite addictive little sauce. Watch out, because this is where a relatively healthy dish can quickly take a turn for the dark side. It's a dipping sauce, not a pour-the-whole-bowl-on-your-plate sauce, Jacqueline!
A little drizzle of sesame oil enriches the flavor. I also like to serve a little dish of the broth alongside for warmth and comfort. Bittman serves the dish on a platter mounded high with the chicken and surrounded by the chopped vegetables. I prefer to make individual portions, as below.
Hainanese chicken presents beautifully, and appeals to just about everyone except my darling, A.
Hainanese Chicken with Rice
1 whole (3- to 4- pound) chicken, trimmed of excess fat
Several cloves smashed garlic, plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
Several slices fresh ginger, plus 1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 cup peanut oil, or neutral oil like canola
3 shallots, roughly chopped, or a small onion roughly chopped
2 cups long-grain rice
1/2 cup minced scallions
2 cucumbers peeled and sliced
2 tomatoes slices
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons sesame oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pot of water to boil and salt it. Add the chicken to the pot along with the smashed garlic and sliced ginger. The chicken should be completely, but just, submerged. Cover and reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the chicken remain in the hot water for an hour, until it is cooked through.
Remove the chicken from the pot, reserve the stock, and let the chicken cool to room temperature. Put half the peanut oil in a skillet or medium dutch oven. When hot, add the remaining garlic and the shallots. Cook, stirring every so often until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring until shiny. Add 4 cups of the reserved stock and boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Make the dipping sauce with the remaining oil, ginger, half the scallions, and a large pinch of salt.
Shred the chicken, discarding the skin. Put the rice on a large platter and mound the chicken on top. Sprinkle with the cucumbers, tomatoes, remaining scallions, and cilantro. Drizzle with the sesame oil and serve with the dipping sauce.