CLAYPOT CHICKEN

Recipe by Manu Feildel with Clarissa Weerasena from their cookbook – More Please! Published by Allen & Unwin (Murdoch Books)

Serves 4

Claypot Chicken Rice
6 small dried shiitake mushrooms
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) chicken thigh fillets, preferably with skin on, cut into bite-sized pieces
300 g (10½ oz/1½ cups) long-grain rice
500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) Chicken stock (see recipe below)
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 Chinese sausage (lap cheong), thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 spring onion (scallion), thinly sliced on the diagonal
2–3 fresh bird’s eye chillies, thinly sliced
2–3 tablespoons light soy sauce
juice of 1 lime

Marinade
1½ tablespoons Ginger juice (see recipe below)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon karamel masakan
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon Chinese rice wine

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in boiling water for 20 minutes, or until softened. Drain and squeeze out any excess water, them trim and discard the tough stalks. Cut the mushroom caps in half.
To make the marinade, combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the chicken pieces and mushrooms and toss to coat. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
Rinse the rice until the water runs clear, then drain well. Transfer the rice to a clay pot, wok or medium heavy-based saucepan, add the chicken stock and salt and bring to the boil over high heat. Immediately reduce the heat to medium–low and cook for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and stir-fry the chicken and mushrooms for 3–5 minutes, or until sealed on all sides but not cooked through. Push the chicken pieces into the rice slightly, then drizzle the marinade and mushrooms over the top. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and leave to cook over low heat for 7–10 minutes. Do NOT lift the lid off the pan during this time.
Remove the pan from the heat and set aside, covered, for 10 minutes to allow the chicken to finish cooking. When it’s cooked, spoon the chicken and rice into a serving dish. You should have a crunchy crust on the bottom of the pan – this is the best part of the meal!
Heat a small frying pan over high heat and cook the Chinese sausage, stirring occasionally, for 1–2 minutes, or until the sausage is golden. Drain on paper towel.

To Serve
Serve the rice and chicken hot, garnished with spring onion and Chinese sausage, with a small side dish of chilli mixed with soy sauce and lime juice. 

Chicken stock
Makes about 2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups)
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) chicken bones, rinsed well
3 litres (105 fl oz/12 cups) water
1 carrot, diced
1 brown onion, diced
1 small leek, pale part only, well washed and finely chopped
1 celery stalk, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bouquet garni (see note)

Place the chicken bones and water in a large heavy-based saucepan or stockpot. Bring to the boil over medium heat, skimming any impurities from the surface. Add the carrot, onion, leek, celery, garlic and bouquet garni and return to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3 hours, skimming regularly.
Strain the stock through a fine sieve sitting over a large bowl and discard the solids. (To keep the stock as clear as possible, do not press on the solids when straining.) Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold. The fat will solidify on top of the stock, making it easy to remove and discard.
Refrigerate for up to 7 days or freeze for up to 3 months. (A good tip is to freeze the stock in ice-cube trays so you can take out only as much as you need.)

Note: A bouquet garni is a bundle of herbs tied together with kitchen string that usually includes parsley, thyme and a fresh bay leaf (plus sometimes a strip of lemon or orange zest), used to add flavour to soups, braises or stocks. My standard bouquet garni consists of two thyme sprigs and a fresh bay leaf, wrapped in a piece of the green part of a leek, then tied with kitchen string.

Ginger juice
Makes 60 ml (2 fl oz/¼ cup)
250 g (9 oz) ginger

Finely grate the ginger into a bowl covered with a piece of muslin (cheesecloth), making sure you catch all the juices.
Take up all the sides of the muslin and squeeze out as much juice as possible into the bowl. Transfer to a small jar, seal and store in the fridge for up to 7 days.

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