In praise of fat

The 2 March 2013 Guardian ‘Cook’ supplement ran an article featuring the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm.

This contained a recipe for ‘happy chicken with loads of garlic cloves’ and, I quote “Chicken with 40 cloves never fails to please”. Personally I tend to agree with this statement, but not in the case of ‘happy chicken with loads of garlic cloves’; or to put it another way: I was not happy with the result (even after making some adjustments to the recipe).

With the exception of the two bacon rashers and the chicken’s own fat, there was no other oil or fat in the recipe. I did amend this by sautéing the diced vegetables (to which I added celery) and bacon, in about a tablespoon of oil (thinking that a basic risotto approach would work). I suspect that this improved the result, but it was still far from never failing to please.

I also reduced the amount of brown rice by 150g to 350g, but still had enough to feed a platoon. The remains were used for:
• Chicken and rice soup (with stock made from the carcass with the usual veg etc); adding some of the remaining rice and veg mixture and some frozen petit pois to improve the colour/appearance/taste;
• Lunch – a bento box salad ingredient (with the addition of spring onions, more petit pois and French dressing);
• Arancini (risotto cakes) – these suffered from breaking up when frying (probably because I had used ordinary brown rice, and maybe I should have added a beaten egg to bind the mixture together), but were quite tasty;

Additionally, the remaining chicken meat was made into Coronation Chicken (one of my all-time favourite sandwich fillings). This will give you a good idea of what to do

Anyway, I must get back to my chicken and garlic recipe, which never fails to please me or anyone else who consumes it. This is composed of potato wedges (‘old’ potatoes washed (unpeeled)), parboiled (placed in cold water which is brought to boiling point, drained and returned to the pan over a low heat to dry out a little); a free range chicken (jointed – the remaining carcass being used to make stock); olive oil; butter; chopped garlic; black pepper; lemon juice and chopped parsley.

Set the oven at around 180°C. Put a generous slug of olive oil in a roasting tin or large oven proof dish. Tip in the potato wedges and toss them in the oil and sprinkle some of the garlic on them. Place in the oven for about 30 minutes. Take the tin/dish from the oven, toss the potatoes again and arrange the chicken joints on top (generously dabbing them with butter, sprinkling with more garlic and putting back in the oven). The chicken should cook in between 50 to 60 minutes (turning over halfway). But always check to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked.

Finish by seasoning with black pepper, lemon juice and chopped parsley.
To me it is the fat (apart from the garlic) that makes this dish, particularly the combination of garlic and butter (demonstrated by that other favourite: garlic bread (not the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm version – to me cheese is an unnecessary addition). In the case of my chicken and garlic meal there were no leftovers!


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