food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘poultry and game’ Category

cooking in the fire

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It’s winter here and when the wood-burning stove is going we take the opportunity to use it for cooking. Sadly, the previous owners who installed the stove didn’t buy one with a stovetop but cooking in coals is an age-old method and seasoned cast iron camp ovens (Dutch ovens) have been used for hundreds of years. To cook in the fireplace we placed the camp oven away from the flames and surrounded it with red-hot coals. It’s important not to have any of the coals underneath as the food will burn onto the bottom. It’s also important to turn the pot every 10 minutes or so.

We chose to make a chicken tagine as the cooking method is very similar. Simply start with a little olive oil and layer your ingredients – we used onion, leek and garlic on the bottom, then fennel and bone-in chicken thighs flavoured with fresh ginger, ground cumin, saffron and preserved lemon and seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. On top, chopped fresh dill and coriander (cilantro) and another drizzle of olive oil. Depending on the heat of your fireplace this meal should cook in 30 – 40 minutes.

This method is also brilliant for roasted vegetables of any kind. They taste amazing and get a wonderful char. We included potatoes, pumpkin, red pepper and brussels sprouts. Simply toss the vegetables in some oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.


chicken and peanut stew

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This African classic Huku ne Dovi comes from Zimbabwe where chicken is considered a delicacy. It’s always served with either rice or millet dumplings. An amazingly tasty dish despite the simplicity of its ingredients.

This might be better with bone-in chicken but I only had 4 chicken thighs to hand which I cut into large chunks. Season your chicken with salt. Heat some vegetable oil and fry 2 diced onions and 1 -2 sliced fresh red chillies until wilting. Add 2 peeled and diced fresh tomatoes and allow them to soften before adding about 200g (7 oz) of fresh mushrooms – if you have tiny ones put them in whole, otherwise cut them into quarters. Cook for a few minutes then add 1 cup or so of chicken stock, your vegetables (I used pumpkin and okra) and the chicken and simmer for 10 – 15  minutes or until the flavours are well combined and the vegetables are just cooked. Take some of the hot liquid out of the saucepan and mix it with ½ a cup of smooth peanut butter. Add it to the chicken and simmer until thickened.

*recipe adapted from A Taste of Africa by Dorinda Hafner.

Written by michelle picker

June 27, 2018 at 12:24 am


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Rabbit is such a dense and lean meat that it’s difficult to keep moist and tender. David’s rabbit-cooking technique is a work in progress but he usually gets it right and here is one of his recipes.

Joint 1 fresh rabbit into 6 pieces. Heat butter and olive oil in a heavy casserole dish and very, very briefly seal the rabbit pieces. Remove them to a covered container. Sauté 1 diced onion, 1 diced celery stick and 1 chopped carrot until the onion is soft and translucent. Add ¼ of a cup of wine (red or white) and allow it to evaporate before adding 1 cup of chicken stock. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Now add the rabbit pieces, 2 pieces of bacon, 1 bay leaf, a few sage leaves, 2 diced cloves of garlic, 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and 1 finely chopped fresh tomato. Make sure everything is well dispersed. Cut a cartouche (a circle or baking paper) and lay it directly over the rabbit. Place the lid on the casserole and cook in a low oven for 1 – 1½ hours or until the rabbit is just tender. Rabbits do vary so the cooking time will also vary. During the cooking, turn the rabbit pieces once or twice, making sure there is enough liquid – the rabbit pieces should be almost immersed. Remove the pieces to a closed container to keep warm. At this stage, depending on how much sauce you have, you can either reduce the sauce or thicken it with a little cornflour dissolved in an equal amount of cold water. The amount of cornflour needed will vary depending on the amount of liquid and it’s acidity. Stir the cornflour slurry into the simmering sauce and continue to simmer briefly. Season again to taste and return the rabbit pieces to the sauce before serving.

Written by michelle picker

June 6, 2018 at 12:02 am

miso chicken with grapes and walnuts

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Another unexpected and delicious combination of flavours in this recipe from (of course) Yotam Ottolenghi.

In a large bowl combine 80g (2¾oz) of white miso paste, 40g (1½oz) of finely grated ginger, 4 tablespoons of mirin (sweet cooking sake) and 4 tablespoons of cider vinegar. To this add 8 bone-in pieces of chicken and mix well. Cover and allow to marinate for a few hours or, ideally overnight in the fridge. Before cooking the chicken peel 12 small shallots, place them in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and cook fo 5 minutes before straining, cooling and cutting them in half lengthways. Place the chicken pieces on a baking tray, skin-side up, with all the marinade and place under a hot grill for 10 minutes. Meanwhile heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan and add the shallots, frying them on medium heat until golden brown. Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar, briefly cook to reduce then pour in 200ml (7fl oz) of white wine, 6 tablespoons of water, ½ teaspoon of salt and some white pepper and continue to cook for about 6 minutes. Add the chicken and all its cooking juices and stir gently. Bring to a low simmer, cover and cook until the chicken is just cooked through. Remove the chicken pieces to a serving dish and keep them warm. To the remaining liquid add 125g (4½oz) of walnut pieces, 80g (2¾oz) of unsalted butter, 1½ tablespoons of maple syrup and 250g (9oz) of small seedless red grapes. Continue to cook and stir for a few minutes until the butter emulsifies. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve.

Written by michelle picker

April 4, 2018 at 12:10 am

ginger braised duck

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Classic Vietnamese flavours, lots of ginger and a little chilli make this braised duck truly tasty.

Use duck legs, thighs or wings for this recipe. Start by browning 6 pieces of duck in some hot oil for a few minutes. Slice a generous amount of ginger into fine slivers and add it to the duck pieces. Continue to fry until the ginger is fragrant. Now add 1½ cups of hot duck or chicken stock, 3 teaspoons of oyster sauce, 2 teaspoons of Thai fish sauce and 1-2 teaspoons of Sriracha chilli sauce. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook uncovered over low heat for 1-1½ hours, checking occasionally to make sure there is still enough liquid. When there is hardly any liquid remaining and the duck is tender and falling from the bone, add some finely shredded carrot, green beans and cabbage. Cook for a further 5 minutes until the vegetables are just cooked. Serve with steamed rice.

Written by michelle picker

February 21, 2018 at 12:37 am

christmas 2017

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This year our Christmas lunch was a lovely eclectic mixture of food. Our guests brought the entree of antipasti.

For the main course we roasted butterflied chickens over charcoal with a garlic, sage and rosemary butter under the skin. We added oak chips from Chardonnay barrels to the fire for a smoky flavour. Our gravy was Chef John’s turkey gravy recipe made with chicken wings instead.

Side dishes included potatoes and heirloom carrots cooked in duck fat, a lovely fresh salad,

and a wonderful stuffing following this recipe.

My next post will be dedicated to our Christmas dessert.

Written by michelle picker

December 27, 2017 at 12:18 am

chicken in a chorizo and red wine sauce

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This wonderful recipe, from The Foods and Wines of Spain by Penelope Casas, is a family favourite. Serve it with crusty bread, a fresh green salad and a robust red wine.

This recipe is for a whole jointed chicken but any bone-in chicken will work. Season your chicken pieces with salt and freshly ground black pepper and dust them lightly with a little flour. In a large, heavy casserole dish heat some olive oil and brown the chicken pieces on all sides. Depending on how large your pot is, you may have to remove the chicken to a plate at this stage. Add 1 large finely chopped onion, 1 finely diced carrot, 2 minced cloves of garlic and 1 skinned and finely chopped chorizo sausage. Sauté this mixture until the onions wilt. Add 2 tablespoons of brandy and flame to remove the alcohol. If you have removed the chicken, return it to the pot with 1 finely diced pimiento (skinned sweet red pepper), 1 bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of finely chopped parsley, ½ of a teaspoon of fresh thyme, ½ a cup of chicken stock and 1 cup of dry red wine. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1 – 1½ hours until the chicken is falling from the bone.

Written by michelle picker

December 20, 2017 at 12:10 am