The other day while I was perusing Pintrest for recipes and inspiration I ran across a great looking recipe, Tea Smoked Chicken. The original recipe can be found on the Use Real Butter Blog. According to the blog author, Jen, this is an old family recipe that her grandmother and mother used to make for her. After reading the recipe and seeing the all the great pics, I could not wait to try this recipe for myself.
Tea Smoked Chicken
My journey to create this amazing chicken dish started with a trip to the local Asian market to search for a package of Shicuan peppercorns. I love going to the Asian market, it’s like an exotic food carnival. But I have to admit, I’m completely overwhelmed and even a little intimidated by the varieties of spices and sauces that I have no clue how to use. With a little help from the clerk and some text photos to my friend Penny I found the elusive peppercorns and was soon on my way back home to start my chicken. I’m still not sure these are the right peppercorns.
I started with 4 whole chicken leg quarters and seasoned them with a mixture of the Sichuan Peppercorns and kosher salt; I used a mix to 2 parts salt to 1 part pepper. Once the legs were seasoned I cover the pan with foil and chilled them over night.
Chicken Seasoned with Kosher Salt & Chinese Peppercorns
After the chicken had marinated overnight it was time to start cooking. I started by boiling the chicken in a large stockpot until done. To check for doneness you can poke the chicken with a fork and watch for the juice to run clear, or just poke it with a meat thermometer; 160º F is done. Once it’s done remove from the pot and allow it to cool. Done forget to save that chicken stock.
As the chicken cooled it was time to build the tea smoker. The smoke comes from a mixture of 2 large bags of tea, 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar.
Spreading Tea Smoke in the pan.
I use one large foil pan, 4 glass ramekins and a cooling rack. I placed the ramekins upside down in the corners of the pan. The I spread the tea mixture evenly across the bottom of the pan. Place the rack on top of the ramekins and then the chicken. I think my pan was a little too, big so next time I’m going to double the tea smoke recipe and keep it closed to be sure to capture all the fantastic flavors. FYI, the inverted ramekins was not a great idea, the sugar stuck to the rim and the smoke stained them, they are now officially for outdoor use only.
Assembled Chicken Smoker
Place the chicken on the rack and cover with foil. Then put the whole package on a hot grill, 400º – 450º. Let it cook for 25-30 minutes. I used my gas grill because I didn’t want the charcoal to over power the tea smoke. Also do not open the foil to peek or you’ll lose the smoke, just leave it alone. I made the mistake of opening peaking and I lost some of that precious tea smoke.
Smoking Pack on the Grill
After thirty minutes had passed I removed the foil to reveal the most delicious and delicately smoked chicken I’ve ever made. Even though the chicken was cooked twice it was still extremely moist and juicy. The tea smoke was just amazing, it was a very subtle light flavor that permeated the meat all the way to the bone. The smoke from the tea is unique, it’s kind of sweet and very light. Even the smoke of a very mild fruit wood tastes bold in comparison to the tea flavor. It would be best describe it as a dainty smoke.
Tea Smoked Chicken with Rice & Broccoli
For this being my first attempt at Tea Smoked Chicken it was really good. Cheryl said it was one of the best chickens I’ve ever cooked. As big as my ego is ,I have to give the credit to Jen for sharing this spectacular recipe. It’s family recipes like this that you just can’t find any professional cookbook or cooking show, and for me this is what cooking is really all about. Be sure to visit Jen’s blog, UseRealButter.com, her pictures are much better than mine and she has some other great recipes I plan on “borrowing”.