I devoured a chicken this week and it was no ordinary bird.
In my quest to go deeper with my emotional connection to food and it’s meaning, I feel like I’ve stumbled on a little secret.
Shirley Harring from Handsourced delivered some truly beautiful birds from Sommerlad Poultry to us last week and enclosed in my order was an extra one for me to play with.
Now normally, Shirley hands out these “samples” to try before you buy, but because I know the calibre of Shirley and hence, the calibre of the farm to table products she sources, I got excited and bought first!
I put that spare Sommerlad chicken in the coolroom and bade my time for the perfect opportunity to cook my chook, (within reason of course) and the yearning became apparent on Australia day.
We were enjoying a family morning at Currumbin dog beach and all I could think about was that fine chicken! The conjuring began in earnest, even surrendering our usual post swim brunch hunt on the promise of this feast. Now; when I start conjuring, I can usually see, taste and smell every single ingredient I have in my pantry and fridge, to begin a process of perfecting the combination. I don’t always know exactly how I’m going to cook until I get into the kitchen and touch everything and that’s when the real magic of my sweet spot begins.
My ingredient list consisted of my Sommerlad Poultry chicken, some baby tomatoes on the vine, greek yoghurt, garlic, royal blue potatoes, a stash of cooked buckwheat, chilli and salad greens. As soon as I got home, I broke down the chook into pieces, gave them a good olive oil rub down and salt and white peppered them generously. They were then popped on a tray with a good splash of white wine, 6 whole semi smashed garlic cloves and a bunch of sage loosely torn and I cooked her slowly for 2 hours at 160 celsius, fan forced. Half an hour before my timer went off I peeled and scored my potatoes (crisp factor), cut them into larger than normal bite sized pieces, and rubbed them with olive oil, fresh ground nutmeg, salt and cracked black pepper and set them aside. I then smashed and fried 4 cloves of garlic in a little seasoned oil on low and threw it in a small bowl of yoghurt with a squeeze of lemon and another pinch of salt. My tomatoes went into a deep enamel dish with EVOO, salt and pepper, and I deseeded and sliced 4 large chilies as thin as I could get them.
Once my timer went off, I removed the sage and garlic from my chicken pan, poured any juices into a jug and cranked that temperature up to 200. The potatoes got dumped into the roasting tray and the enamel tray of tomatoes went into the oven separately. I set the timer for 20 minutes, pulled my cooked buckwheat out of the fridge and poured myself a decent glass of wine.
The chook’s sage and garlic got chopped and added to a hot pan with a tablespoon each of EVOO and butter, along with a handful of sunflower seeds and a decent grind of pepper and a generous pinch of salt. When the seeds were golden, the flame turned to low and I added 2 cups of cooked buckwheat to make a farce for the chicken. I lazily turned that buckwheat, so the grains caramelised and somewhat separated. My dreams of a pan jus eating excuse were being realised!
Whilst the buckwheat was doing it’s thing, a mix of greens were washed and spun, the fine chilli added and the bowl wrapped and set aside in the fridge, to dress just before we ate, so nothing risked being wilted.
The timer went off, the tomatoes came out first and then the chicken was pulled out. I popped the chicken pieces on a platter and poured 1/2 a cup of verjuice, the pan juices and all but 1/4 cup of those delicious juices from the roasted tomatoes over the chicken and allowed it to bathe whilst it rested. The remaining tomato juices were poured over the buckwheat, which was then transferred to a pretty bowl and put on the table with the garlic yoghurt. The salad got dressed with lemon juice and EVOO and went onto the table and then I arranged the spuds on the chicken platter, added the roasted tomatoes and shazam; dinner was done.
I can’t tell you how simply satisfying this meal was. That chicken just fell of the bone and those sweet juices were oozing from its’ flesh with every bite. Our spuds were crisp, the chillies on the salad were sweet and warm, and the yogurt and pan juices drizzled over everything was just, a-frikkin-mazing.
My chicken fancies will never be the same again!
We’re also playing with them in The Jam Pantry’s kitchen this flip. The breast are on our savoury board with pumpkin hash, buttered kale and pickled honeydew melon. The thighs have been braised and served with a 2 year lemon pickle, salted honey labneh and sweet cold cucumber on an omelette and the legs have been smoked and paired with a lemongrass and white pepper bernaise, sautéed french shallots and pickled rhubarb.