You put a chicken in a watermelon? (Imagine saying this in your best Reese Witherspoon "You have a baby... in a bar" voice.) Emmymade in Japan, who tries out strange and exciting dishes in "You Made What?!" segments on her YouTube channel, found this unique watermelon chicken recipe in an April Fools Day edition of the New York Times and decided she had to fix it.
Fortunately, she documented the whole DIY process for us in this video. Follow along to see how this watermelon chicken experiment turns out.
The most important thing is to find a watermelon big enough to hold a whole chicken. This dish, as Emmymade notes, is definitely best done in late summer, when you can find large watermelons easily to accommodate roaster chickens. You can also use boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs in place of the whole chicken.
The process is fairly simple: cut the top of the watermelon off, then scoop out the bottom part. You don't want to take all the watermelon out, just enough so that the chicken can fit inside. I repeat, do not scoop all the way to the bottom of watermelon.
Then she season the chicken with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, lemons, soy sauce and five-spice powder. Season the cavity of the chicken as well. The blend of flavors is going for a sweet and tangy balance, but how does it turn out in the end?
Once the chicken is seasoned, Emmymade nestles the chicken inside the watermelon. Then she places the top part of the watermelon back on as a lid, and secures it with long skewers.
The whole thing goes on a baking sheet and into the oven. It's baked for a total of five hours, and I love how she talks about the smell of the baking dish. A pumpkin smell is not what I would have expected.
When she pulls the baking sheet out, it's really a sight to see. The watermelon barely looks like a watermelon. The chicken itself is fall-apart tender. Remove the chicken from the watermelon and place the watermelon aside.
You could serve the chicken in the watermelon straight out of the oven, but Emmymade takes the chicken and watermelon juice and reduces it into a gravy in a small saucepan.
So how does it taste? Emmymade notes how succulent the meat is, and how perfect the five-spice flavor is. And it doesn't taste like watermelon at all! The gravy has a sweet taste balanced with a slightly tangy flavor from the lemon.
This dish would be perfect for a late summer party—get a watermelon and make a production out of it. Or if you want to use the watermelon chicken as the foundation of another recipe, you could make a unique and yummy chicken salad that's sure to be the hit of the party.
Unsure of making it? BBQ some chicken (marinated in jalapeno, lime juice, and cilantro) and serve it alongside a side dish of watermelon salad.
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