Beggar's Chicken

Course : Chinese
Serves: 4
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3 1/2 pounds frying chicken
3 piece dried lotus leaves
4 pounds wet modeling clay
2 tablespoons salted mustard green minced
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root -- minced
-----mixture for skin-----
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon medium sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

Preparation / Directions:

Prepare Chicken: Trim excess fat from chicken; remove wing tips. Mix mixture for skin; rub chicken inside and out with it. Leave uncovered at room temperature, while coating is absorbed and dried. Repeat if necessary. Stuffing: In hot wok, heat peanut oil to smoking. Stir-fry ground pork 2 minutes; add mustard green, ginger and sugar; stir-fry 1 more minute. Remove and cool. Lotus Leaves: Number of leaves depends on their size and that of chicken. Reduce heat under boiling water to simmer, and steep leaves for 3-5 minutes, until wet through and pliable (no longer or leaves may shred). Now soak in cold water for 10 minutes, or longer, until time to use them; open folded leaves in cold water to wash them. Wrap Chicken: Preheat oven to 550F. Stuff chicken with pork mixture. Cut hard center out of lotus leaves, then slit along fold about 3" on each side of center, so cut away center can be overlapped. Wrap chicken in 3 layers of lotus leaves. Tie securely with piece of cotton or fiber string (don't use nylon; it might melt). Spread soft, wet modeling clay about 1/2" thick on sheet of newspaper. Bring clay pack around chicken and seal. Remove newspaper. (Use foil if clay unavailable.) Roasting: Place clay-covered chicken on rack in shallow roasting pan in preheated oven. Bake for 1 hour; reduce heat to 350F and bake for another 1 1/2 hours. Serve: Present fired clay chicken to table. Crack clay with suitable object, allowing some of steam to escape before you proceed. Remove clay; carefully cut open lotus leaves with scissors. Chicken will be very soft and tender; break apart to get at stuffing. Serve guests, or invite them to pick with chopsticks

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