Tea Smoked Chicken

The process of smoking meat has always intrigued me. I like the way that smoked meat contains so many flavors but only in subtle quantities. I’ve wanted to learn how for so long but the thought of actually doing the smoking at home has always intimidated me because I thought I’d need special equipment and an assortment of barks and leaves. Seems not. A large wok and a rack were all the equipment I needed. And to create the smoked tea leaves and, believe it or not, spices and seasonings that are staples in most kitchens.

Please note that this is the result of an experiment. Whole chicken is used traditionally and all I had last night were chicken leg quarters. But I was raring to find out if I could manage to do the smoking at home so never mind if I didn’t use a whole chicken. How did it go? I’ll cut to the chase and tell you right now it was a success. When I tasted the chicken, my mind started whirling about all the other possibilities all the other spices and herbs and fruit peels that I can use, and the various combinations that I intend to try.

So, whether you want to try this with chicken quarters or a whole chicken, here’s how:

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Leave for a few hours in the fridge to allow the seasonings to penetrate the meat. Take a large wok and cover it with two layers of aluminum foil. Into the foil-covered wok throw in half a cup of your favorite tea (I used a combination of genmaicha and green tea leaves), a piece of star anise (or a cinnamon bark), a teaspoonful of Sichuan peppercorns, the peel of one orange and a tablespoonful of brown sugar.

Cover the wok, turn on the stove keeping the temperature on medium. Meanwhile, steam the chicken over briskly boiling water for five minutes. Uncover the wok. The tea and the rest of the ingredients should be smoking by now. Place a rack inside the wok and arrange the chicken on the rack. Cover the wok tightly and smoke the chicken for an hour and a half to two hours.