Yield: 4 servings
|3½ pounds||Frying chicken|
|3 \N||Dried lotus leaves|
|4 pounds||Wet modeling clay|
|½ pounds||Ground pork|
|2 tablespoons||Salted mustard green, minced|
|1 tablespoon||Peanut oil|
|1 teaspoon||Fresh ginger root, minced|
|\N \N||MIXTURE FOR SKIN:|
|1 tablespoon||Medium sherry|
|1 teaspoon||Sesame oil|
|1 tablespoon||Dark soy sauce|
A beggar wrapped a plucked chicken in lotus leaves from the pond to prevent it from burning, then coated it with mud to disguise his prize. Onto his small fire it went. When he unwrapped it 2 hours later, this aromatic dish awaited him.
Prepare Chicken: Trim excess fat from chicken; remove wing tips. Mix mixture for skin; rub chicken inside & 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 & sugar; stir-fry 1 more minute. Remove & cool.
Lotus Leaves: Number of leaves depends on their size & that of chick- en. Reduce heat under boiling water to simmer, & steep leaves for 3-5 minutes, until wet through & 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 550 degrees. 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 ½" thick on sheet of newspaper. Bring clay pack around chicken & 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 350 degrees & bake for another 1½ 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 & tender; break apart to get at stuffing. Serve guests, or invite them to pick with chopsticks.