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Changde Clay Pot Chicken
China - Hunan
  -   Chang de bo zi ji
4 main  
1 hr  
In the city of Changde this dish would appear in the winter in a clay pot bubbling over a stove in the center of the table. The peppers and scallions would be sprinkled on top raw to cook in the steam. The frying is messy and takes time but can be done a day or more ahead. If you have a Chinese sand pot and know how to manage it, you can cook in a clay pot, but here I use more familiar metal pans.


Chicken (1)
Ginger root
Cassia (2)
Bell Pepper (5)
Chili, dry (4)
-- Sauce
Chicken Stock
Rice Wine
Soy Sauce, dark
Soy Sauce, light  
Chili Bean Paste
Sesame Oil
Prep   -   (20 min)
  1. Cut CHICKEN apart and chop into small serving pieces Chinese way. See Note-5 for method, or Note-1 for alternatives.
  2. Slice GINGER thin, break up CASSIA into large shards. Mix.
  3. Peel the GARLIC but leave the cloves whole.
  4. Cut BELL PEPPER into 1/2 inch wide strips about 1-1/2 inches long.
  5. Cut SCALLIONS into 1-1/2 inch lengths, using the green part only
  6. Stem CHILIS if needed.
  7. Mix all Sauce items.
Run   -   (40 min)
  1. In an iron wok, or better a kadhai (Indian wok), or in a deep skillet (chicken fryer) heat 1 cup Oil to near smoking. Working in three batches, fry Chicken Pieces stirring over highest heat until they have completely lost their raw color. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain.
  2. Return drained oil to the pan and bring it up very hot. Again working in three batches fry the chicken parts but this time until golden brown and cooked through. Again set aside to drain.
  3. Stir Garlic Cloves into the oil and fry stirring until just starting to color. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  4. Drain Oil from the pan, clean the pan and return it to the stove with 3 T of Oil. Actually at this point I set the kadhai aside on a spare ring stand to be dealt with later, continuing with a large sauté pan.
  5. Heat Oil and stir in Ginger mix. Fry stirring for about 1 minute until fragrant, then stir in Chili Bean Paste and fry stirring until well distributed in the oil. Stir in Chilis and fry stirring until they just start to darken.
  6. Stir in Chicken and Garlic, then Sauce Mix. Simmer uncovered over moderate heat, turning now and then, for about 15 minutes. You want it to reduce in that time to a thin sauce consistency but watch that it doesn't get too dry.
  7. Stir in Bell Pepper, then Scallions for just a minute to cook only slightly.
  8. Just before serving, drizzle the Sesame Oil
  1. Chicken:   In China a whole chicken would be used, but in North America you could use about the same weight legs and thighs for easier preparation. As given this dish is definitely finger food, but if you want to eat it with a fork use about 3/4 the weight of boneless thigh meat (breast meat is too dry and lavorless).
  2. Cassia:   Cassia bark is what passes for "Cinnamon Sticks" in North America, so you probably already have it.
  3. Bell Pepper:   Either red or green, or a mix of both is fine.
  4. Chili, Dry:   use Japones if you want the recipe rather mild, Arbols or Thai if you want it hotter. For really hot break Arobols or Thai into several pieces. For details see our Chili Page.
  5. Cutting Chicken:   The Chinese are convinced meat on the bone is jucier and tastier, so they cut up a whole chicken into serving pieces bones and all. This is best done with a razor sharp Chinese cleaver knife. If you're not a Chinese chef born with a cleaver knife in your hand don't try to do this free-hand. Place the sharp edge of the cleaver where you want to make the cut, then whack the back side firmly with a soft faced mallet (plastic, wood or hard rubber) to drive it through. Preferably do this with a single blow to minimize bone splinters. See Photo Gallery for desired result.
    1. Cut off wings and thighs in the usual way with a sharp boning knife. Cut thighs and legs into 3 pieces each with the cleaver knife.
    2. Use your kitchen shears to separate the back side from the breast side, avoiding meaty parts.
    3. Use the cleaver knife to cut both breast side and back side lengthwise into right and left sides. This is best done starting from the inside of both parts.
    4. Use the cleaver knife to cut both halves of both of back and breast crosswise. Cut the meaty breast into narrow slices, the less meaty back into larger pieces.
    5. If your chicken has feet, do not use them in this recipe, cooking time is too short.
  6. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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