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Beggar's Chicken

A classic Chinese dish; Beggar's Chicken makes a very grand party dish.

ingredients

serves 6 - 8
3 1/2 - 4lb (1.6 - 1.8kg) freerange chicken
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine or Amontillado sherry
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2in(5 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1/4 lb(110 g)lean pork, cut into matchsticks
8 fresh shiitake mushrooms finely sliced
3 oz ( 85 g) Chinese pickled cabbage, chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp light soy sauce
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp five-spice powder
5 or 6 lotus leaves, soaked in hot water until pliable
1 1/2 lb (600 g) flour
water

method

1. Remove any excess fat from the bird. Rub all over with salt. Mix together the dark soy sauce, wine, half the oil, a little shredded ginger and the spring onions. Spread this over the chicken and let it marinate for an hour.

2. Fry the pork until crisp and add the mushrooms, cabbage, onion and remaining ginger, oil, soy sauce, pepper and a little of the five-spice powder. Cook over moderate heat for a few minutes. Drain off any excess oil and stuff the chicken with the mixture.

3. Wrap the bird tightly in the lotus leaves, sprinkling the rest of the five-spice powder between the leaves. Tie if necessary. Put the parcel in a roasting bag, tightly closed to retain the juices.

4. Finally make a stiffish paste with the flour and water and use it to cover the parcel completely. Place it on a lined baking sheet and bake in the centre of a hot oven, pre-heated to 200°C/400°F, gas mark 6 for 2 hours.

5. To serve, crack open the dough and cut through the paper and leaves, The meat will be tender enough to eat with chopsticks.

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