- One chicken about 4 pounds, Wings detached backbone removed
- 1 tablespoon Szechuan peppercorns
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 ginger slices, smashed
- 4 green onions, cut into short lengths
- 5 index-finger lengths dried strips of tangerine peel, broken into small pieces
- 3 cinnamon sticks broken into small pieces
- 1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
- 1/3 cup parboiled Canilla raw rice
- 1/3 cup loose leaf tea (one kind or a mixture)
- Detach the wings from the chicken then remove the backbone. Chop off the knees. Splay the chicken open as if it was butterflied. Set aside.
- In a wok or heavy skillet over medium low heat, toast the peppercorns and salt for about 3 to 5 minutes until the peppercorns are slightly smoking in the salt has discolored of it almost off-white. Grind to a powder.
- Rub two-thirds of the peppercorn salt on the chicken, getting some under the skin too. Put into a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
- Return the chicken to room temperature. Put the ginger, chicken and green onion on a plate or reuse the bowl that the chicken marinated in, if it fits in the steamer. Set up a Chinese steamer with water to boil and steam the chicken for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the lid and let the chicken cool naturally. (Chill the chicken up to 2 days before smoking it. Return it to room temperature before smoking.)
- To smoke the chicken, use a wok or large pot. Line the vessel and lid with aluminum foil. Add the tangerine peel, cinnamon, sugar, rice, and tea. Mix well. Put a rack on top so it sits about 1 inch (2.5 cm) above the mixture. Put the chicken, breast side up on the rack.
- Cover with the foil-lined lid. Turn the heat to high heat. Once you see smoke coming from under the lid, lower the heat to about medium-high to maintain faint wisps of smoke coming out. Smoke the chicken for 20 minutes. Slide off the hot burner and let sit for 3 to 5 minutes before removing the lid. If the chicken is not a dark, gorgeous brown, add more rice and sugar and smoke for another 5 to 10 minutes.
- Cool the chicken on a rack before cutting and serving with the remaining Sichuan peppercorn salt and maybe a pickle or two.
(c) Valerie Renèe 2015