It has been a while since I have done roast chicken. One thing this blog has done for me (to me?) is to force me to test the bounds of flavors. I have been making Sichuan pepper shrimp and it has been very popular with my family. I decided to try this seasoning with a whole chicken.
The Szechuan Salt & Pepper that Jan brought back from Sonoma is a bit too salty to use over an entire chicken. I decided to cut the salt by mixing it with some more Sichuan Pepper. That way I could use as much pepper as I wanted, without over doing the salt.
Note: For a discussion of the spelling difference, see this recipe.
My son-in-law, Chris, was right about it not really being Sichuan without the la jao (hot pepper). I added just enough to give it a bite, but not so much that we would start to cry. I decided that ginger and garlic should also add to the flavors.
Note: My chicken and mushroom dishes produced some very fine cooking broths. I decided not to waste them. The broths were already so concentrated that I did not need to reduce them. I simply poured them together into a fat separator and served the sauce on the side, au jus.
Karl’s Szechuan Salt and Pepper Roast Chicken
1 roasting chicken (about 7 lbs.)
1 Tbs. Szechuan Salt & Pepper, separate uses
½ Tbs. Sichuan Pepper
1 tsp. Chinese chili flakes
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, separate uses
2 Tbs. shaoxing rice wine
8 cloves garlic, cracked
1. Rinse and pat the bird dry. Separate the skin from the breast and thighs.
Tip: Lay the bird on its back with the neck facing away from you. Slide your fingers under the skin at the back of the breast bone and spread your fingers apart. Try not to rip the skin any wider near the breast bone. Push your hand in further and repeat the finger spreading. Slide your fingers over the outside of the thighs. You should now have much of the skin separated from the meat on both sides of the bird.
2. Coarsely grind the Sichuan pepper and Chinese chili flakes. Add one teaspoon of the Szechuan Salt & Pepper. Mix the spices together.
3, Rub the spice blend in the cavity and under the skin on both sides of the bird.
Note: Do not use this blend on the outside of the skin. Actually if you chose you may mix all of the dry spices and rub it on both the inside and out, but that is not what I am planning to do. Some of my diners will discard the skin and heavily spicing it would be a waste.
4. Grate the half of the ginger into a small cup and add the shaoxing. Splash this mix under the skin and into the cavity of the bird.
5. Crack the garlic cloves open and put them in the cavity.
6. Slice the remaining ginger into coins and put them in the cavity.
7. Seal the cavity by sewing up the skin.
Tip: I usually pull the flaps of skin together and use 2-3 toothpicks to stitch them together.
8. Truss the legs and fold the wing tips under the back.
Tip: Take a piece of string and tie it to one end of the leg. Wrap the string around the end of the other leg and draw them together. Tie the ends of the string together to hold the legs in place. For the wing, picture taking your right hand and placing it on the right side of your neck while keeping your elbow by your side.
9. Cover the bird in plastic and refrigerate the bird for at least one hour to marinate.
10. Roast the bird on a wire rack and uncovered in a 350° F oven, until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thigh reads 165° F.
Note: Cooking time is entirely dependent on the size of your bird and the roasting technique you use (high or low heat methods). I could not improve on Just a Pinch’s discussion on the subject.
Tip: If the top of the breast is starting to burn cover it with a small piece of foil to protect it.
11. Remove the bird to a serving platter and tent it with foil for 10 minutes.
Tip: This allows the internal juices to evenly distribute throughout the meat and prevents it from just leaking out when you cut the bird.
12. De-fat the pan liquid and serve it on the side, au jus.