Sarah from Simply Cooked was our November Daring Cooks’ hostess and she challenged us to create something truly unique in both taste and technique! We learned how to cook using tea with recipes from Tea Cookbook by Tonia George and The New Tea Book by Sara Perry.
For this month's challenge I took up smoking. I'd had the idea of using tea leaves to smoke food floating around in my head for awhile, I can't remember where I picked it up. So when this challenge was revealed and the only requirement was to make something savoury with tea, I knew what I wanted to do.
I googled tea-smoked chicken and it came back with hundreds of recipes and suggestions, but many of them were based on a mixture of equal parts tea leaves, raw rice and brown sugar. The traditional approach is to use a foil-lined wok but I wanted to try it in our barbecue.
I have described my method and ingredients below, but it really extremely flexible and could be used in any sort of salad, or sandwich or ramen or pasta or whatever. The result was some perfectly cooked and very tasty chicken pieces, but the smoke flavour was very subtle and the tea flavour was non-existent. I think it would need a longer smoking time (at a lower temperature than I could achieve in our barbecue) to develop more flavour.
For the chicken
4 skinless chicken thigh pieces
1/4 cup tea leaves
1/4 cup uncooked rice
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick crumbled into pieces
Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside.
Preheat your barbecue on high for around 10 minutes.
Choose a robust baking tray and wire rack that will fit inside your barbecue.
Wrap the tray on both sides with a double layer of foil.
Combine the tea, rice, sugar and cinnamon and spread evenly inside the tray.
Place the tray inside the barbecue and wait until it starts to smoke
Place the chicken on the rack and then put the wire rack over the tea mixture in the barbecue.
Turn the heat down to low, close the lid of the barbecue and leave for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes I checked the temperature using a digital thermometer with a probe and it was good to go.
For the salad (to serve 2)
2 smoked chicken thighs, shredded
1/2 cos lettuce, shredded
1 bunch asparagus, blanched and sliced
1/2 ripe avocado, sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
Combine all the ingredients in a salad bowl and dress as desired. I used just a little olive oil and balsamic.