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Old 07-12-2007, 04:37 PM   #1
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Anyone succeed at Beggar's Chicken

Has anybody ever tried Beggars Chicken. I came across the recipe years ago, and it has been the bane of my chicken cooking career. Itís the one dish Iíve never been able to do. Here is the recipe:

Beggars Chicken

Beggars Chicken w/pictures

It sounds awesome. Technically, the cooking (mechanics) of it is not so different from a pressure cooker or tightly sealed roaster. However, the absolute FUN of bringing a chicken encased in rock (ok, hardened dough) and then whipping out a mallet to crack it open sounds great.

Iíve tried it three times, but it always failed. The first time, I could never get the dough to seal....and I made a horrible mess with all the flour (flour and I donít get along well).

The second time, I got the bird encased in the flour, but apparently my inner foil lining was breached, and the juices ran out and caused the dough to get soggy and leak (no airtight seal as required).

I then went commando-crazy on the recipe and went to a pottery shop and bought several pounds of clay! I thought for sure that would work......but that stuff is harder to work with than I thought. It never sealed properly, and eventually the inner foil pack leaked and the moisture caused the clay to come apart.

I never lost the chicken itself since it was wrapped in foil and protected from the mess of the casing. I just unwrapped it and cooked it on the grill, but Iíve yet to fully accomplish this recipe.

Itís been years since my last dismal failure at this recipe, and Iím thinking of trying again in the near future (glutton for punishment I guess). Iím also thinking of using a Cornish Hen for the next go round as that is a much smaller bird....and if I can do that, then Iíll move on to a full sized chicken.

Anyone ever tried this recipe? How did it turn out? Was serving it as much fun as I imagine?

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Old 07-17-2007, 12:15 AM   #2
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I've never tried it, but it sounds interesting. Good for getting out your aggression! LOL

Barbara
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Old 07-20-2007, 01:25 PM   #3
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Hereís a twist on beggars chicken that I know I could do......I just have to go to Hawaii to do it. Time for a field trip!
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Old 07-22-2007, 03:02 AM   #4
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It sounds like more work than it's worth to me, lol. I'll bet if you got yourself a few of the oven bags and double or triple wrapped your bird, you'd get the same sort of effect on the meat... very juicy and tender. I think what's happening in that recipe is simply that the pastry makes an airtight seal and you get a nice roasted chicken without losing any of that moisture. The heat from the steam in combination with the oven heat probably helps to break to those tough proteins a little faster resulting in the tenderness of the meat.

It seems like one additional benefit you might get is you wrapped your chicken in that pastry is that your bird would be well seasoned, from all of that salt. Other than that, I can't really see any benefit to going to all that trouble, other than a sense of accomplishment. You're not supposed to eat the cooked pastry are you?

As for tips, you might want to research how whole salt-crusted fish is made. It's not quite the same, but I think the principles are similar.
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Old 07-22-2007, 05:42 AM   #5
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I had Beggar's Chicken at an upscale Chinese restaurant many years ago. I distinctly remember the server having to crack open the dough to reveal the chicken. The taste and texture was pretty good I think but this was way before I became interested in culinary arts so I can't really remember the details of my experience. Also there was some story attached to the origins of Beggar's Chicken that I don't remember now (duh!). I'm sure a quick web search would fix that.
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Old 07-22-2007, 06:20 AM   #6
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An abbreviated story regarding the origin of Beggar's Chicken is on the menu here:

http://www.hiltonhawaiianvillage.com...Menu110306.pdf

When I used to work at that hotel, I would see the cooks make it but I never asked them how. Plus, they couldn't speak English anyway so it wouldn't have made a difference. I did try the chicken a few times and it's pretty good. To me, the appeal is more in the cooking process. Guests were always wowed by the presentation.

If you want to try the very best roast chicken, Google for a Alain Ducasse's recipe. That is the best roast chicken you will ever eat.
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Old 07-22-2007, 03:24 PM   #7
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i have done beggar's chicken in a few different ways

the first way is with a special salt dough (sturdier than your standard bread dough more like a pate en croute dough)

the second way was to wrap it in parchment paper then mold hawaiian clay around it

the third way and my fave is wrap in romaine/cabbage leaves then pack in a salt crust (rock/kosher salt and whipped egg whites
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Old 07-31-2007, 09:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by college_cook
It sounds like more work than it's worth to me, lol. I'll bet if you got yourself a few of the oven bags and double or triple wrapped your bird, you'd get the same sort of effect on the meat... very juicy and tender. I think what's happening in that recipe is simply that the pastry makes an airtight seal and you get a nice roasted chicken without losing any of that moisture. The heat from the steam in combination with the oven heat probably helps to break to those tough proteins a little faster resulting in the tenderness of the meat.

It seems like one additional benefit you might get is you wrapped your chicken in that pastry is that your bird would be well seasoned, from all of that salt. Other than that, I can't really see any benefit to going to all that trouble, other than a sense of accomplishment. You're not supposed to eat the cooked pastry are you?

As for tips, you might want to research how whole salt-crusted fish is made. It's not quite the same, but I think the principles are similar.
It is not the same as the usual salt crust, because the chicken does not come in contact with the salt dough (it is wrapped in parchment or some leaves first)
Also, the wine used inside of the package makes it different too.
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