Sand pot chicken
New Year score card: Week 1 – go back to work after 12 months off (shock); Week 2 – spend nearly all week in bed with nasty summer head cold (sick). Universe 2, Reb 0. Here’s hoping week 3 starts looking better. Instead of having all day to muck around having lunch or deciding what to eat and preparing it, no matter how complicated, the strategy has to change slightly for combining job and food.
This is an easy weekday all-in-one meal that you can make for one or more depending on the size of your clay or sand pot. You can buy these sand cooking pots from Chinese grocery stores for between $7.00 and $20.00, depending on the size and style. You need to soak your pot in water for 30 – 60 minutes before putting it in the oven so it doesn’t crack. The outside has a sandy rough finish and the inside has a glazed surface so cooking liquids don’t penetrate into the pot. In a similar way to a tajine, the cooking vessel itself intensifies the flavour of your ingredients in a way a stir fry doesn’t. Use whatever meat and vegetables and sauces you have in your fridge or pantry, so this recipe is also a great way to use up leftovers.
2 chicken thigh fillets, visible fat removed, cut into 3 cm chunks
½ an onion, sliced into half moons
4-5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp freshly grated root ginger
1 fresh red chilli, de-seeded and sliced
1 kaffir lime leaf, bruised
1 tbsp hoisin sauce (or oyster sauce)
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin or Chinese rice wine or sake
2 tbsp lime juice
¼ cup water or chicken stock
½ cup – 1 cup of fresh green vegetables. You can use broccolini, cabbage, asparagus, choy sum, gai lan, bok choy, been sprouts, snow peas or sugar snap peas etc.
1 shallot finely sliced and/or 1 tbsp coriander chopped
Preheat the oven to 180 (160 fan forced). Combine the chicken, onion, mushrooms and spices with the sauces and mix well. Put this mixture into the soaked and drained sand pot, cover with the lid, and cook in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, and add the green vegetables, stirring again to coat them in the juices. Return to the oven for 5 minutes or until the veges are cooked to your liking. Remove the lid and garnish with shallots and coriander.
Serve with rice or noodles, and if it’s a meal for one you can put the rice or noodles straight into the sand pot to serve.