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July 24, 2013

A dish an emperor can love

Have Chinese Beggar's Chicken on table in an hour

Fu Guai Gai, or Beggar’s Chicken, gets its name from an ancient legend.

According to myth, there was once an old, poor homeless man who one day saw a chicken, and because he was so hungry, caught and killed it. He coated the chicken in mud, built a fire and roasted the chicken.

The chicken smelled so good that even the emperor followed his nose to the source of the delicious aroma wafting through the streets. The emperor saw the homeless man and asked, “What do you call this chicken? How is it made?”

The only reply the homeless man would give was, “It’s called Beggar’s Chicken.”

Beggar’s Chicken is often baked in a clay pot, or a bready dough — slowly.

Jim Bailey, The Yankee Chef, makes a Beggar’s Chicken that is almost as easy as the original and can be on the table in an hour. Instead of mud, he coats the chicken in a marinade of soy sauce, green onions, ginger, sugar and five-spice powder, wraps it in aluminum foil and bakes it for 40 to 45 minutes.

The results are as delicious and fragrant as the legend promises.

Beggar’s Chicken


2 1/4 pound whole chicken

3 green onions

1 cup soy sauce

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon sugar (or to taste)

1 teaspoon five-spice powder (or to taste)

1 teaspoon ginger (or to taste)


1. Pour soy sauce into a bowl. Set aside.

2. After cutting off both tips, mince green onions.

3. Add onions, ginger, sugar and five-spice powder to soy sauce. Whisk until spices and sugar have dissolved.

4. Lay an 18-by-inch or cross two pieces of 12-inch wide pieces of tin foil on baking sheet.

5. Put chicken in the middle of baking sheet and rub with vegetable oil. Do not rub the bottom.

6. Rub quarter of the soy sauce mixture on the chicken.

7. Pour the remaining marinade inside the cavity of the chicken.

8. Fold in the pygostyle (known colloquially as the Pope’s Nose, Parson’s Nose, Sultan’s Nose, or, quite frankly, the butt) of the chicken.

9. Wrap chicken in tin foil tightly.

10. Bake at 425F for 40 to 45 minutes. Cook any chicken larger than 2 1/4 pounds for longer.


Recipe courtesy of Jim Bailey, The Yankee Chef, 2013.

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