Velvet Chicken1 (3 to 3 1/2 lb) Free Range whole chicken
2 (14 oz) cans low sodium chicken broth (3 1/2 cups)
1 cup soy sauce
1 cup dark soy sauce (see cooks' note, below)
1 cup Chinese rice wine (preferably Shaoxing) or medium dry Sherry
1/4 cup coarsely crushed yellow rock sugar (2 oz) or 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 bunch scallions, cut into 3 inch pieces
6 (1/4 inch thick) round slices fresh ginger
4 (3 by 1 inch) strips fresh orange zest
1 tablespoon fine sea salt
2 whole cloves
2 whole star anise (1 1/2 teaspoons)
1 (2 1/2 inch) dried red chile
1/2 teaspoon Sichuan or black peppercorns
Accompaniment: cooked rice or noodles
Garnish: fresh cilantro leaves
> Rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry.
> Combine remaining ingredients in a 4 to 6 quart heavy pot and bring to a boil.
> Add chicken, breast side down, and reduce heat to a simmer. (Chicken may not be completely covered with liquid.) Cook, covered, 15 minutes.
> Turn off heat and let chicken stand, covered, 30 minutes. Turn chicken over, then cover and let stand 15 minutes more. (Chicken will be cooked through.)
> Transfer chicken to a cutting board, reserving cooking liquid. Cut off drumsticks and thighs, then cut off wings, transferring pieces to a serving platter. (Chicken will release juices.) Separate breast (with rib cage) from back, discarding back.
> Using a cleaver or other sharp large heavy knife, cut breast against grain through bone into 1 inch thick slices.
> Spoon some of the warm poaching liquid over chicken and serve chicken warm, chilled, or at room temperature. Pour remaining poaching liquid through a sieve set into a bowl and serve additional poaching liquid as a sauce if desired, then reserve remaining liquid to use again.
Dark soy sauce gives a deeper color to this dish. If its unavailable, additional regular soy sauce is an acceptable substitute. Chicken keeps, covered and chilled, 2 days. Leftover poaching liquid keeps, chilled, in an airtight container 1 week, or frozen 3 months. Thaw if necessary and bring to boil before using.