Description: Food Network Kitchen's Drunken Chicken.
Recipe courtesy of Andy Liang for Food Network Kitchen

Drunken Chicken

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 10 hr 15 min (including marinating time)
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
This classic Shanghai dish involves soaking poached chicken in rice wine. The wine used is Shaoxing (sometimes called hua diao wine), a Chinese cooking wine typically used in stir-fries and marinades and known for its amber color and floral flavor. This version of drunken chicken includes some of the chicken poaching liquid mixed into the marinade to temper the strong flavor of the Shaoxing. Some recipes use equal parts wine and poaching liquid, but we found it a bit overpowering. Feel free to adjust the amount of wine to your liking. The addition of goji berries is optional (and not traditional), but it adds sweetness and color to the dish.



  1. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons salt on the chicken, making sure to season the inside of the cavity. Leave the chicken at room temperature for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of cold water to a boil over medium-high heat in a 7-quart Dutch oven. Add 2 tablespoons salt, the ginger and whole scallion. Slowly lower the chicken into the boiling water with the breast side up. Bring the water back up to a gentle boil.
  3. Carefully lift the chicken out using the handles of 2 wooden spoons or 2 pairs of chopsticks positioned under the wings; be careful not to tear the skin (do not use tongs as they can easily tear the skin). Lift the chicken just high enough and tilt it so all the water drains from the cavity into the pot; this allows cold water in the cavity to drain and ensures even cooking.
  4. Lower the chicken back into the water. Bring the water back to a gentle simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cook, covered, until the juices run clear when the chicken is pierced between the leg and thigh, 33 to 35 minutes. Right before the chicken is done, prepare a large bowl of ice water.
  5. Transfer the chicken to ice water breast-side down; reserve the liquid the chicken poached in. Let the chicken cool for about 10 minutes, flipping it once after about 5 minutes. (The ice bath prevents the chicken from overcooking, but also helps to firm the meat and tighten the skin.)  Remove the chicken, letting the excess water drain off. 
  6. Whisk together 2 cups of the reserved poaching liquid, the wine, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool to room temperature. 
  7. Carve the chicken with a meat cleaver or chef's knife: Start by detaching both leg quarters (leg and thigh together) from the body. Chop the leg quarters through the bone into roughly 3/4-inch pieces. Cut off the wings and drumettes. Split the wing flat lengthwise to expose the meat. Cut the breast bone down the center to separate the two breast halves. Cut each half through the bone into 3/4-inch pieces. Lay the chicken pieces in a 2-quart casserole dish in a single layer. 
  8. Sprinkle the goji berries if using around the chicken. Pour the wine mixture over the chicken making sure it’s submerged; add a little more poaching liquid if it’s not. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days. 
  9. Serve cold, taking the chicken pieces out of the marinade and garnishing them with the goji berries and thinly sliced scallions if using. 

Cook’s Note

The marinade isn’t served with the chicken once the pieces are plated, so you can strain and reuse it if you like. It will keep refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to 2 months. When you’re ready to make drunken chicken again, defrost the marinade if necessary and pour it over chopped poached chicken again. Discard the marinade after making the dish a second time.