Facebook LinkedIn Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram YouTube Icon Navigation Search Icon Main Search Icon Video Play Icon Plus Icon Minus Icon Check Icon Print Icon Note Icon Heart Icon Filled Heart Icon Single Arrow Icon Double Arrow Icon Hamburger Icon TV Icon Close Icon Sorted Hamburger/Search Icon

Red-Roast Chicken or Duck with Sweet Potatoes

Servings: 4 to 6

Eating a whole chicken or duck for Chinese New Year symbolizes happiness and prosperity. The red-roast technique used here imparts a reddish-brown hue to the bird; red is the color of joy and helps to ensure happiness throughout the year ahead.


  • 1 4-1/2- to 5-lb. whole chicken or duck, preferably organic
  • 3-1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 3 cups soy sauce
  • 1 cup black soy sauce, such as Koon Chun
  • 2-3/4 lb. rock sugar, or 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • 2 bunches scallions, sliced into 2-inch segments (about 4 cups), plus more thinly sliced, for garnish
  • 1 5-inch piece peeled ginger, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 whole head garlic, unpeeled and halved horizontally
  • 4 bird’s eye chiles
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (about 8 cups)
  • 4 oz. watercress (about 4 lightly packed cups)


  • Tie the bird’s legs together with kitchen twine, tuck the wings behind the back, and set aside. In a large deep pot (8 or 9 qt.), combine the wine, soy sauces, sugar, scallions, ginger, garlic, chiles, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and 4 cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to make sure all the sugar has dissolved and the aromatics have softened, about 15 minutes. Taste the liquid; it should be pleasantly sweet-salty.
  • Add the bird to the poaching liquid, breast side down. If liquid does not cover the bird, add 1 to 1-1/2  cups more water. It’s
    okay if the back of the bird is not completely submerged. Bring to a boil again, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Place a second pot (or stainless-steel bowl half-filled with water) on top to use as a weight to keep the bird submerged in the liquid. (Be sure the bowl is large enough to fit securely over the pot without tipping into the liquid.) Simmer until the bird is very tender, about 1 hour. Carefully remove the water-filled bowl. Remove the pot from the heat, and let the bird cool in the liquid, 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Carefully remove the bird from the liquid, and tent tightly to keep warm. Remove the aromatics from the liquid with a slotted spoon, and reserve. Skim the excess fat from the liquid as needed.
  • Add the potatoes to the liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender but still retain their shape, 12 to 13 minutes. Remove from the liquid with a slotted spoon.
  • Put the watercress in a large bowl, and toss with 4 to 5 Tbs. of the poaching liquid. Add the potatoes, and gently toss to combine. Transfer the watercress-potato mixture to a large pIatter, and top with the bird. Garnish with the sliced scallions.
  • If you like, strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer. This sauce can be reserved and frozen for future use.


Rate or Review

Reviews (1 review)

  • cucumber | 02/06/2019

    The recipe doesn’t call for roasting. This chicken is poached. Is there some direction missing, or is “red-roast” a turn of phrase?

Rate this Recipe

Write a Review

Delicious Dish

Find the inspiration you crave for your love of cooking

Fine Cooking Magazine

Subscribe today
and save up to 50%

Already a subscriber? Log in.


View All


Follow Fine Cooking on your favorite social networks

We hope you’ve enjoyed your free articles. To keep reading, subscribe today.

Get the print magazine, 25 years of back issues online, over 7,000 recipes, and more.

Start your FREE trial