Many people come down with colds, flu and sinus infections when the seasons change. Here is a recipe for Chinese ginger chicken broth that, with a little bed rest, will have you feeling better in no time.
- One organically raised, ethically sourced whole chicken (giblets removed). For guidelines on buying healthy, humane chicken, check our Sustainable Kitchen Guide on buying poultry.
- A generous amount of fresh ginger. This can be young or mature ginger, but it needs to be fresh and good quality. A five or six inch piece would work well.
- Sea salt
Put whole chicken, breast side up, into a stock pot. Sprinkle a tablespoon of sea salt on top of it.
Wash ginger, peel as much of the skin off as you can easily get to. I don’t worry too much about getting every last bit of skin off.
Slice the ginger into fat pieces, about 1/3 – 1/2 inch slices. Put the ginger in the pot with the chicken.
Fill the pot with cold water. I use a stockpot that fits my chicken and I add enough water to cover the chicken by three or four inches. Do not fill to the very top. You must leave a couple of inches at the top or the water will boil over.
Cover the pot with a secure fitting lid, turn the burner onto high and bring the water to the boil.
Once the water comes to a boil, let it boil for ten minutes. You may need to turn the heat down just a bit, or vent your lid just a tiny bit, to keep it at a rolling boil but not boiling over.
After ten minutes, replace the lid (if you’ve vented it) and turn off the burner. Leave the chicken in the pot with the lid on tightly and the burner off for two hours.
Remove chicken and ginger from the pot. Discard ginger.
When the chicken has cooled enough to handle, remove the skin and remove meat from the bone. You can enjoy this in many other dishes, such as stir fry, curry, etc. The common way is to cut the breast into slices and serve with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, toasted sesame oil, crushed garlic and minced fresh ginger. If you are not using the chicken right away, keep the skin on, put it in a container and store it in the fridge. Keeping the skin on retains the moisture.
Using a fat separator, clarify the broth. Or, if you have a preferred method, such as skimming, use that.
Season the broth with more sea salt if needed. Serve steaming hot in a mug. The trick to getting this to taste just right is to adjust the salt. This is supposed to taste light, bright and gingery.
Of course, you don’t need to be sick to enjoy this dish. Just serve the steaming broth alongside the chicken and dipping sauce. Because the chicken cooks very slowly, it is incredibly juicy and tender.
This method may surprise you if you have never heard of bringing a chicken to the boil and then letting it cook gently and slowly without additional heat. It creates an amazingly fresh, vibrant broth that doesn’t have the overcooked, muddy taste that can plague many chicken broths.
You can add chives or other spices, but do try it with only the ginger at least once. I think you’ll agree it doesn’t really need more. For sick people, onions and garlic can be hard to digest. Ginger, on the other hand, aids in digestion. Drink this if you are sick throughout the day, and sleep when you are not sipping broth. A sick person can easily drink four or five large mugs of this in a day.
Don’t be tempted to lift the lid before the two hours are up! You don’t want to let any heat escape, or your chicken may not be cooked through. I’ve never, ever had a chicken not be cooked through using this method, but you do have to pay attention and note the time that the pot begins a full boil, and let it boil for ten full minutes. You can actually leave the chicken in the pot for up to three hours, but only two is necessary. The chicken is actually cooked in one hour, but it needs to steep another hour for the flavors to develop.
If you do find you have left over broth, you can store it in glass mason jars, either in the fridge or for later use in the freezer.