Diary of a Foodie

Drunken Chicken with Rice-Wine Granita

Diary of a Foodie: Season One: China: One Billion Foodies

Serves6 (First Course)
  • Active Time:30 min
  • Start to Finish:7 hr (includes marinating)
January 2007
  • 12 cups water
  • 4 Turkish or 2 California bay leaves
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 10 scallions, trimmed
  • 1 (4-inch) piece fresh ginger, cut into 10 (1/3-inch-thick) slices
  • 1 tablespoon white Chinese rice wine
  • 1 1/4 cups plus 5 tablespoons fine-quality Shaoxing (amber-colored Chinese rice wine) or medium-dry Sherry
  • 1 (3- to 3 1/2-pound) chicken
  • Garnish:

    fresh chives

Make marinade and granita:

  • Combine 4 cups water with bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, salt, sugar, 5 scallions, and 5 slices of ginger in a 2-quart saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely, about 1 hour.
  • Add white rice wine and 1 1/4 cups Shaoxing to cooled liquid, then pour through a sieve, discarding solids. Reserve half of marinade (about 2 1/2 cups) for chicken.
  • Pour remaining marinade into an 8- to 9-inch square metal baking pan (not nonstick) and freeze, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours. Scrape with a fork, stirring and crushing any lumps, and continue to freeze, scraping every hour, until evenly frozen, about 4 hours more. Scrape granita again to lighten texture, crushing any lumps. Cover and keep frozen until ready to use.

Poach chicken while marinade cools:

  • Bring remaining 8 cups water, 5 scallions, 5 slices of ginger, and 5 tablespoons Shaoxing to a boil in a wide 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderate heat. Add chicken, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until cooked through, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer chicken with poaching liquid to a large heatproof bowl, then set bowl into a larger bowl of ice and cold water and cool chicken completely (in poaching liquid), about 1 hour, replenishing ice as necessary.

Marinate chicken while granita freezes:

  • Transfer poached chicken to a cutting board (discard poaching liquid or reserve for another use) and cut into 6 pieces (2 breasts with wings, 2 drumsticks, and 2 thighs). Keeping skin intact and pieces of chicken whole or in large pieces, carefully remove bones from meat, discarding bones. Put chicken in a bowl and pour reserved marinade over it. Marinate, covered and chilled, at least 5 hours.

To serve:

  • Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Divide among 6 stemmed glasses or shallow bowls and top with granita. (Scrape granita again to lighten texture if necessary.)
Cooks' notes:
  • Rice wines are available at Chinese markets.
  • Chicken can be marinated up to 2 days.
  • Granita can be frozen, covered after about 5 hours, up to 3 days.
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