charles phan's hainan chicken

kosher salt
whole chicken
about 2 1/2 - 3 pounds
1 piece ginger
about 3 inches, smashed, see notes
4 whole green onions
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup duck fat
or chicken fat
2 cups jasmine rice
2 cloves garlic
1 whole Thai chili
1 piece ginger
about 2 inches, julienned
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 whole lime
1 tbsp sugar
for garnish
This recipe is one of our favorite preparations for a whole chicken. While we've adapted this recipe from Charles Phan's Slanted Door, we've made a few modifications. First, we use duck fat instead of chicken fat, mostly because we never have chicken fat on hand but duck fat is easily accessible from our butcher. Second, we cycle our chicken broth forward so that we have broth on hand for the next time we make this dish, see notes for more details. We also serve the whole chicken, including the breast. Last, we emulate the preparation from SF's Khin Khao in that we serve it with well-seasoned chicken broth on the side.
Fill a large dutch oven with water and bring it to a boil over high heat.
Clean the chicken of any dirt and loose skin by rubbing it with salt and then rinsing it.
Add the chicken, smashed ginger, and green onions to the pot. Boil for 15 minutes.
Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Rest the contents in the pot for another 15 minutes.
Transfer the chicken out of the pot and let it cool. If applicable, trim the head, feet, and wing tips and toss these pieces back into the pot. Reduce the chicken stock for 1 hour over medium-high heat.
Strain the stock and reserve 2 cups of it for the chicken rice. Season this portion with 1 tablespoon of salt. It should taste fairly salty. With another tablespoon of salt, season then freeze another 2 cups for the next time you make chicken rice. Reserve the remaining stock to serve on the side. Keep this last bit of stock warm and season to taste with fish sauce right before serving.
Transfer the rice into a mesh strainer and rinse with cold water. Pat excess water on the surface of the mesh strainer with paper towel and drain well.
Heat the duck fat in a skillet until almost smoking. Add the drained rice and sear it for about 3 minutes.
Transfer the seared rice along with the salted broth into the rice pot. If you are cooking brown rice, be sure to add more water or chicken stock up to the brown rice water line. Cook the rice in the rice cooker.
For the dipping sauce, smash the garlic, chili, and julienned ginger in a mortar and pestle.
Transfer the dipping sauce base into a small bowl and add the fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar. Whisk until the sugar is dissolved. Thin to taste with water if needed.
Cut the chicken into smaller pieces. With a cleaver or equivalent, separate the chicken legs at the thigh, the separate the thigh from the leg but cutting it at the joint. Carefully using strong, swift cuts, chop each drumstick and thigh into 3 pieces. Separate the wings from the body and cut each wing into two pieces, drumette and wing. Slit along each side of the breast bone and pull off the breast. Cut into multiple pieces.
Serve the chicken with the chicken rice, sauce, cilantro and seasoned broth on the side. Wash down mouthfuls of chicken and rice with sips of broth. Perfection! :)
If you really enjoy this recipe and think that you will prepare it often, speed up production the next time around with the 2 cups of frozen broth reserved from this recipe. After resting the chicken and stock in step 4, you can continue with making the chicken rice with the thawed stock while the stock reduces for 1 hour. Freeze 2 cup portions of the newly reduced stock for next time and continue the cycle for the next recipe!

We once used a meat pounder to smash the ginger for the broth. Since it was out, we ended up using it on the garlic, ginger, and chile for the sauce to help speed things up.