Salt-Baked Chicken
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Recipe courtesy of Vivian Chan for Food Network Kitchen

Salt-Baked Spatchcock Chicken with Ginger Scallion Sauce

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 40 min
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
Salt-baked chicken was my family’s version of roast chicken. When my dad made it on weekends, the house would be perfumed with fragrant sand ginger (aka ground galangal) and smoked salt. Unlike the roasted version, the bird here is wrapped in parchment paper then “baked” by salt heated on the stovetop in a Dutch oven. While the skin won’t crisp up, you’ll be rewarded with the juiciest chicken ever. To minimize the cooking time and amount of salt used, I start with a spatchcock chicken, which becomes infused with even more flavor from the aromatics, thanks to the increased surface area. The zingy ginger scallion sauce accompanying the dish adds a hit of freshness. Afterward, the cooled salt can be saved in an airtight container for the next time you crave this dish--it won’t be long after your first bite!



Special equipment:
two 3-foot-long pieces kitchen twine
  1. Measure out 1 tablespoon salt from the box into a small bowl; add the 1 tablespoon sand ginger powder and the white pepper and mix well until combined. Measure out 1/4 teaspoon salt from the box into a medium heatproof bowl. Set both bowls aside.
  2. Pat the chicken dry all over with paper towels then transfer to a wire rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet. Brush both sides of the chicken with the Shaoxing wine; evenly sprinkle both sides with the sand ginger mixture and rub in. Let sit, skin-side up, in a cool place away from direct sunlight for 1 hour.
  3. During the last 30 minutes of the hour, pour the remaining salt from the box into a Dutch oven. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the temperature of the salt reaches 450 to 500 degrees F, 20 to 30 minutes. It’s okay if the salt darkens slightly. Lower the heat to low.
  4. Prepare two 2 1/2-foot-long sheets of parchment paper on a work surface. Add the ginger slices and scallion segments in an even layer to one of the sheets; place the chicken on top with the legs pointing toward a short side of the parchment. Fold the long sides of the parchment over the chicken, followed by the short sides to fully wrap the bird. Feel free to roll the short sides for a tighter seal. Slide the twine under the parchment and tie up the package like a gift, crossing the ends across the middle lengthwise and crosswise. Repeat wrapping and tying the chicken with the second sheet of parchment and second piece of twine.
  5. Carefully transfer half of the hot salt from the Dutch oven into another medium heatproof bowl and set aside.
  6. Level the remaining salt in the Dutch oven with a wooden spoon to create an even layer at least 1/4 inch deep. Nestle in the wrapped chicken, breast-side up. Pour the reserved hot salt directly on top. Cook, covered, over medium-high heat for 50 minutes. Remove the Dutch oven from the heat and let sit, covered, for 30 minutes. The residual heat will continue to cook the chicken.
  7. Meanwhile, add the sugar, grated ginger, minced scallions and remaining 1/4 teaspoon sand ginger powder to the reserved 1/4 teaspoon salt; mix until well combined then set aside.
  8. Add any reserved fat from the chicken to a small saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the fat is rendered and any solids are dark brown and crispy, 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the amount of chicken fat). If rendering the fat does not yield 1/2 cup of liquid, make up the difference with the store-bought rendered fat or neutral oil and heat until hot. Add 2 tablespoons of the hot fat at a time to the ginger scallion mixture; if it bubbles up, let it settle for about 15 seconds after each addition. Stir until everything is combined. Set aside until ready to serve.
  9. When the 30 minutes are up for the chicken, remove the lid and brush off as much salt as possible with a wooden spoon. Carefully transfer the parchment package to a large cutting board or rimmed baking sheet. Cut the twine and unwrap the chicken. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken should reach 165 degrees F and the juices should run clear. Allow it to rest, unwrapped, for 15 minutes.
  10. To carve the chicken, remove the legs and cut each into drumsticks and thighs. Carve out the wings then remove each breast and slice it to your desired thickness. Arrange the chicken on a serving platter. Feel free to pour any accumulated juices over the chicken or serve on the side in a bowl. Serve with the ginger scallion sauce on the side.

Cook’s Note

If your chicken is not already spatchcocked, you can ask your butcher to do it for you. Alternatively, do it yourself: Use strong kitchen scissors or poultry shears and cut down either side of the backbone. Pull out the backbone, turn the chicken over and press down on the breast of the chicken to flatten it out to one thickness. Reserve the backbone for another use.