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My cooking is fabulous, even when the smoke detector is cheering me on…

So I’m not a good cook. There are a few crime scene photos to prove it. But I keep trying, and once in awhile I have success. Other times, we had a pile of charred pots. Either way, we haven’t starved yet!

Just over a year ago, I tried a recipe for English Breakfast Tea Chocolate Cake. It was over-the-moon delicious! I made it for Dad’s birthday this year! So I decided to try another “tea” recipe on the savoury side: Tea-Stained Chicken.

Tea-Stained Chicken is also known as Laquered Chicken or Mahogany Chicken. Normally a whole chicken is smoked over a blend of spices and tea leaves, before it is glazed and baked to perfection. But my Weight Watchers recipe book skips the smoking part (thank goodness – can you imagine how much my smoke detector would be cheering?!?), and just made the sauce.

I was running late (as usual) so I prepared my stain and used it immediately, but it could be done up to a day ahead and would likely produce a much darker colour.

I brought 1/2 water to a boil, then set is aside with 1 tea bag (Tetley or Red Rose, I’m not sure which I used), 2 slices of fresh ginger and 4 peppercorns. I thought it was odd that they were so specific with the peppercorns, but it made it easy to count when you fish them out later! 😉

After 5 minutes, I squeezed out my bag and added 1 1/2 tsp. of soy sauce and 1 tsp. packed brown sugar. Back on the heat until it is reduced in half. Let it cool. Remove the ginger and peppercorns and paint it on your chicken.

They suggest browning the chicken in a pan before tossing it in the oven at 350F. The frugal dishwasher in me just tossed it in the oven. Why would I dirty 3 pots and pans for one meal?? It’s like crockpot recipes that you pre-cook 3/4 of the way before putting it in the crockpot. Does that really save me time?

The sauce was a rich, dark brown, and had thickened enough that it didn’t roll right off the chicken. I have made differnt sauces using soy sauce and ginger in the past, but this had a slight acidic tang from the tea, and a lovely subtle heat from the ginger and peppercorns. I would probably make it again.

The recipe book recommended serving the chicken with mango relish. I haven’t had great success in selecting ripe mangoes, so I made a tomato peach salsa instead. I’m surprised I haven’t shared this recipe already – I love it!

  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 peach, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 tsp. lime juice
  • green onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp. oil
  • 1 clove garlic or 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid honey
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

You don’t need a silver fork to enjoy good food.

Paul Prudhomme

Bon Appetit!