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Jul 31, 2011 02:41 PM

Beggar's Chicken [split from Ontario]

Curious.........what is it....please explain for me?

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    1. Wonderful dish. Chinese, though, I don't really know the regional origin. A whole chicken, with lotus nuts, wrapped in lotus leafs and then sheathed in clay (these days, mostly a hard dough is more common) and baked. The clay hardens as it bakes and makes the chicken marvelously soft and perfumed with the lotus nuts. Ate it throughout my childhood on the special occasions and I miss it.

        1. re: warlock

          This thread had me doing a search online for a recipe, since I suspect this won't be an easy dish to source in a restaurant, although perhaps it could be ordered a day or more in advance from a (northern or at least mainland) Chinese restaurant that has other order-in-advance chicken or duck dishes available.

          If one were to try to make it at home, is standard potting clay acceptable or are there toxins that could destroy the dish and make diners potentially ill? Where in the GTA might I source clay that would be safe for this use? Could a salt crust do the same job, or even a clay baker lined with the lotus leaves?

          1. re: 1sweetpea

            A simple dough of water, flour and salt would do the trick. The supposed origins of this dish were beggars who stole chickens from farmers, covered them with mud and baked them, and when they removed the mud the feathers came away as well. They would not have access to flour to make a dough!

            1. re: 1sweetpea

              1sweetpea My brothers wife used to make it at home and would use an aluminium foil to wrap the chicken if using clay or parchment paper if using dough.

              1. re: elvisahmed

                Thanks for those simple solutions, Teep and elvisahmed. I figure that the lotus leaves will add flavour, the parchment will protect the flour, water and salt dough and hopefully, the dough will make an acceptable seal for the dish so it can do its thing inside the lotus leaves.

                Sounds like a major weekend project. Now, to find fresh chickens that still have their head and feet. In Windsor, I've only seen frozen ones like that.