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Tea-smoked chicken

Serves 4.

4 whole chicken legs (about 3 pounds total)

2 cups water

1 bay leaf

1 onion, quartered

1 carrot, quartered

½ cup Lapsang Souchong tea leaves

½ cup dark brown sugar

1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, coarsely chopped

1 cinnamon stick, cut into 4 pieces

1 star anise (optional)

½ cup uncooked white rice (any kind)

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1. In a flameproof Dutch oven large enough to hold the chicken and vegetables in one layer, set the chicken legs skin-side up. Add the water. Tuck the bay leaf, onion, and carrot in at the sides. Bring the water to a boil, skim the surface thoroughly, and cover the pan. Simmer the legs for 20 minutes.

2. Remove the legs from the skillet and set them aside. The broth, which is light, will make a fine lunch. Chop the vegetables.

3. Line a wok or deep cast-iron skillet with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil, letting about 3 inches hang over the sides. Into the skillet, scatter the tea, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, star anise (if using), and rice. Set a rack on top. Place the chicken, skin-side up, on the rack. Rub it with the oil.

4. Cover the chicken with a tent of heavy-duty foil. Bring the bottom foil up over the top foil and seal them together to make an airtight dome over the meat.

5. Set the pan on a burner and turn the heat to high. Smoke the chicken for 10 minutes or until you can smell the melted sugar begin to burn in the bottom of the pan.

6. Turn off the heat and let the chicken sit for 5 minutes. Unwrap the edges of the foil carefully. Serve with brown rice and steamed broccoli.

SHERYL JULIAN & JULIE RIVEN

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