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Clay pot rice has a crackling crust

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A satisfying blend of sticky rice and savory meat, clay pot rice is known in Cantonese as bo zai fan. This Southern Chinese dish simmers, then steams, rice with sausages, bacon or both, so that their fat coats the grains and helps create a crackling crust on the bottom of the pot. In this variation, marinated chicken is nestled into the mix, its meat making for a more substantial meal. Lop cheong, a Cantonese sausage that’s a little sweet, is available in Chinese markets, but other sweet cured pork, like maple bacon, works as well. Even though this meal is named for the pot in which it’s cooked, a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet works, too.

Clay Pot Rice With Chicken and Sausage

Ingredients for the Chicken Rice:

• 2 tablespoons soy sauce

• 1 tablespoon oyster sauce

• 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry

• 1 teaspoon sesame oil

• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon ground white or black pepper

• 2 scallions, whites and greens separated, thinly sliced

• 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (1 1/2 pounds)

• 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice

• 2 links (3 ounces) lop cheong (Chinese sausage), thinly sliced, or 2 slices thick-cut maple bacon, cut into small pieces

Ingredients for Serving:

• 3 tablespoons dark or regular soy sauce

• 1 teaspoon sesame oil

• 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

• 1/2 teaspoon Chinkiang (black) vinegar or balsamic vinegar

• 1/4 teaspoon ground white or black pepper

• 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves (optional)


Prepare the chicken rice: Mix the soy sauce, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine, sesame oil, sugar, pepper and scallion whites in a large bowl. Slice the chicken alongside the bone, cutting off 2 pieces of meat per thigh. Cut those pieces into 1 1/2-inch chunks and add to the bowl, along with the 4 thigh bones that still have some meat on them. Mix well to coat, then cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes and up to 1 day.

Rinse the rice in a strainer until the water runs clear. Spread in a large clay pot, a Dutch oven or cast-iron skillet with a lid and add 2 cups hot tap water. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the serving sauce: In a small bowl, stir the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, vinegar and pepper until the sugar dissolves.

Spread the chicken with its marinade in an even layer over the rice, nestling the bones into the rice. Scatter the lop cheong evenly over the chicken. Cover and bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and continue cooking until the chicken and rice are cooked through, 25 to 35 minutes.

Taste a grain of rice to see if it’s tender and cut into a piece of chicken to make sure it has lost its pinkness.

Uncover the pot and raise the heat to high. Cook until you hear the rice crackling against the bottom and smell its toastiness, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

To serve, drizzle a spoonful of the serving sauce over the chicken and gently fold into the rice without scraping up the bottom. Sprinkle with the scallion greens and cilantro, if using, and serve with the remaining sauce. After most of the dish has been eaten, use a thin spatula to scrape up the charred rice on the bottom. It comes off more easily after the pot has cooled a bit.

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes, serves 4.

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