The charm of this dish is its simplicity. What could be better than a chicken roasted to perfection, golden brown and crisp-skinned, paired with a dusky, dark, tea-based sauce. The sauce takes its inspiration from the yak-buttered tea of Tibet, but in this case the tea is Chinese and the butter is the European variety. No matter where you are, you can enjoy this dish, infused with the aura of the steppes of central Asia.
Tea-basted Roasted Chicken
1 Litre of Water
100g Menghai 5 Years Pu Erh tea
5 cm piece of ginger, peeled and sliced into coins
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to release the aroma
250ml vegetable stock
Olive oil to coat roasting pan and to brush the chicken before roasting
1 large whole chicken (1.5 kilograms) well washed and dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4g granulated sugar
60g unsalted butter (in small cubes)
Bring the water to the boil. Add the tea leaves and infuse for 3 minutes. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve into a bowl, extracting as much liquid as possible. Pour the liquid into a clean sauce pan. Add ginger, garlic and the vegetable stock and return the liquid to a boil. Remove from the heat, sieve out and discard the solids, reserving the liquid.
Preheat the oven to 235°C. Lightly brush a heavy 30cm roasting pan with olive oil. Salt and pepper the chicken inside and out. Place the chicken in the roasting pan and pour about 120ml of the brewed tea over it. Basting the chicken every 20 minutes with the tea mixture, roast for about 60 minutes until the chicken's juices run clear. Test the chicken within a meat thermometer; at 77°C it's done. Skim the fat from the liquid of the pan. Remove and place the chicken on a cutting board and carve into 8 pieces. Place the pieces on a platter and keep warm. Reduce the the basting liquid to coating consistency, adjusting the seasoning to taste. Add sugar to taste.
Off heat, add the butter (in small knobs) to the reduced liquid. Whisk continually until blended. Strain the sauce through a fine-meshed sieve and pour into a heated sauceboat. Serve immediately. The Deluxe Tea Club suggests wild rice, sautéed portobello mushrooms and Savoy cabbage as desired as accompaniments.