This is comfort food that tastes clean and smells wonderful. If you want the option of heat and spice, make the chili sauce in the VARIATION, below.
Servings: 4 - 6
- One 3 1/2-pound whole chicken, preferably organic, giblet packet removed
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small red bird's eye chile pepper, stemmed, seeded and split lengthwise in half
- 1 stalk lemon grass, outer layer removed, smashed
- 4-inch piece (3 ounces) peeled ginger root, cut crosswise into thin slices
- 1/2 cup uncooked long-grain white or brown rice
- 6 heads baby bok choy, rinsed well, then trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
Pat the chicken dry. Season it inside and out with salt and pepper to taste, then place in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan along with the split chili pepper, lemon grass and ginger. Cover with cold water (8 to 12 cups) and bring to a boil over high heat, using a spoon to skim off any scum/fat on the surface. Then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook (uncovered) for about 1 hour, skimming as needed.
To check the doneness of the chicken, lift it partially out of the liquid. Use a skewer or the long tines of a fork to poke it; the juices should run clear. When the chicken is done, remove the saucepan from the heat. Let the chicken cool in the liquid/broth for 30 minutes.
Transfer the whole chicken to a plate to cool. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth into a separate large saucepan. Discard the solids.
Place the rice in a small saucepan. Stir in 1 cup of the broth; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until the broth has been absorbed. Turn off the heat.
While the rice is cooking, remove all of the chicken meat from the bone, keeping it in large pieces as much as possible. The yield should be at least 5 loosely packed cups. Discard the skin and bones.
Place the saucepan with the broth over medium-high heat. Add the poached chicken pieces and bring just to a boil, then add the bok choy. Cook for 2 minutes; the vegetables should be crisp-tender. Remove from the heat. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed.
To serve, divide the chicken, bok choy and broth evenly among individual bowls. Serve hot, with the rice on the side.
VARIATION: To make a simple chili sauce, stem 5 small red bird's-eye chili peppers (seed if desired) and place them in a blender, along with 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1 tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce and a splash of unseasoned rice wine vinegar. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl for serving at the table.
Adapted from "The Perfect Ingredient," by Bryn Williams (Kyle, 2012).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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